Number of Available College Athletic Scholarships Scholarship
Stats.com

One of the eternal questions in life is how many college athletic scholarships are available.

Well maybe not, but here's our most recent calculation. For official sports sponsored by the NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA the maximum limit is 177,559 full scholarships. However most sports are equivalency sports and awards can be allocated in partial amounts, so the total number of  scholarships (full and partial) is substantially higher than presented below:

Maximum Number of Scholarships Available
Official NCAA / NAIA / NJCAA Sports Scholarships         Men     Women
Football 30,423 30,423 -
Basketball 28,819 14,259 14,560
Soccer 19,594 8,564 11,030
Track & Field 16,026 6,690 9,336
Baseball 15,190 15,190 -
Softball 14,410 - 14,410
Volleyball 11,430 294 11,136
Cross Country  8,169 3,512 4,657
Tennis 7,599 2,732 4,867
Golf 7,398 4,062 3,336
Swimming & Diving 5,784 2,114 3,670
Lacrosse 3,230 1,371 1,859
Rowing  2,080 - 2,080
Wrestling 1,898 1,898 -
Ice Hockey 1,657 1,045 612
Field Hockey 1,119 - 1,119
Gymnastics  911 101 810
Water Polo 470 126 344
Equestrian 390 - 390
Bowling 315 24 291
Skiing  240 107 133
Fencing 233 99 134
Rifle 93 47 46
Beach (Sand) Volleyball 45 - 45
Rugby 36 - 36
Totals 177,559 92,658 84,901

These numbers are maximums for official sports; each school has the option to award scholarships up to the limit, award none, or award somewhere in between. Varsity sports not listed are not official sports of the NCAA, NAIA or NJCAA and are not subject to scholarships limits set by these associations. Most sports are equivalency sports so partial scholarships can  be awarded to meet the limit. See our page on scholarship limits for more information.

Football has the most scholarships simply because it's uniquely profitable and these profits fund other varsity sports at many schools. Other than men's basketball, virtually all other men's and women's varsity sports programs lose money on a divisional basis, and these losses are substantial. Reasonable people can disagree regarding the merits of the focus on college football, but the bottom line fact remains that football underwrites all other sports at many schools.

Football complicates Title IX compliance for many schools (to put it mildly), but even with football, female athletes have available a higher proportion of college athletic scholarship opportunities than male athletes:

% of Available Scholarships to Total Student Athletes 2012
All Sports  Totals Men  Women
Total Student Athletes 517,849 308,171 209,678
Maximum # of Scholarships 177,559 92,658 84,901
% of scholarships to athletes 34% 30% 40%
All Sports except football Totals Men  Women
Total Student Athletes 430,593 220,915 209,678
Maximum # of Scholarships 147,136 62,235 84,901
% of scholarships to athletes 34% 28% 40%

 
The maximum number of full athletic scholarship equivalents by division is as follows:
Total # of Total Athletes Maximum # of
Athletic Association   US schools Participating Scholarships Men Women
 
NCAA - Division I 348 139,063 74,243 38,354 35,889
NCAA - Division II 292 85,385 36,343 18,439 17,904
NCAA - Division III 418 144,062 -0- -0- -0-
NAIA  260 56,354 25,778 13,440 12,338
NJCCA  464 53,248 41,195 22,425 18,770
Other Schools 276 39,737 n/a n/a n/a
         
2012 Totals 2,058 517,849 177,559 92,658 84,901
NCAA & NJCAA Division III schools  do not award athletic scholarships, but provide other financial assistance that student athletes may qualify for - see our page on scholarship limits for more information. To see the odds of a given student playing a varsity sport by each athletic association or division, go to our page on the chances of playing college sports by division.
 
The number of college varsity teams by sport  is as follows:

Total # of Varsity Teams # of # of teams
School Sponsored Sport schools Men  Women
Basketball  1,973 1,936 1,885
Volleyball  1,737 129 1,736
Baseball  1,643 1,643 -
Softball  1,636 - 1,636
Soccer  1,613 1,364 1,493
Cross Country   1,463 1,355 1,434
Golf  1,299 1,236 793
Tennis  1,176 975 1,157
Track & Field  1,068 996 1,065
Football     871 871 -
Swimming & Diving     600 488 597
Lacrosse     451 331 393
Wrestling     322 322 14
Field Hockey     260 - 260
Ice Hockey     150 146 85
Rowing      147 75 146
Bowling     113 48 109
Water Polo     112 79 105
Gymnastics        87 17 86
Rodeo       74 73 73
Equestrian       65 7 65
Fencing       42 35 42
Skiing        42 40 41
Rifle       34 28 33
Sailing       34 32 34
Squash       32 31 28
Beach (Sand) Volleyball       16 - 16
Badminton       15 - 15
Other Sports        12 11 9
Rugby        10 7 5
Sprint Football        8 8 -
Cycling & Mountain Biking        6 6 6
Synchronized Swimming        5 - 5
Archery        4 3 4
Total Varsity Teams 12,292 13,370

      
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