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Number of NCAA college athletes climbs again


A record number of student-athletes were on rosters for all divisions in 2014-15

October 29, 2015 10:13amAmy Wimmer Schwarb
More college students than ever are participating in NCAA championship sports. The latest count of NCAA student-athletes shows they now number 482,533.

Growth of the number of NCAA college athletes from 1984-85 to 2014-15
That figure was culled from an analysis of 2014-15 data submitted to NCAA research staff from member colleges and universities. A deeper dive into the data reveals women made up 43.4 percent of the total student-athlete population, a number that mirrors last year’s ratio, even though women’s teams make up 53 percent of championship sports teams.

The total number of NCAA student-athletes is up 2.1 percent since the previous academic year and 108.4 percent since 1981-82, the first year of the participation study.

On average, NCAA schools sponsor nine sports for women and eight sports for men. Last year, the number of championship sports teams sponsored for women increased by 139 nationwide, and the number for men increased by 101.

Those increases happened even though 56 men’s teams and 47 women’s teams were dropped in 2014-15. For men, tennis saw the biggest net decrease, losing five teams, while skiing saw the greatest net decrease for women, with two teams eliminated. Meanwhile, one sport also saw the biggest net increase for both men’s and women’s teams: outdoor track and field, which added 28 teams for women and 23 for men.

Amy Wimmer Schwarb is the original author. This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, NCAA.


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