Now that we talked on how to enhance your “stock” as a track athlete, we can now talk about how funding for your stock is awarded in scholarships.
Despite what you see on television, there are thousands of collegiate track and field programs, each with a certain amount of scholarships they can award. Due to regulation by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division 1 schools are awarded 12.6 men’s and 18 women’s athletic scholarships for the entire program. For Division 2, 12.6 athletic scholarships are given to both men’s and women’s programs, and for NAIA, 12 athletic scholarships.
To simplify the breakdown, 12.6 scholarships mean that 12 athletes can be on full-ride, with another athlete having 60% of tuition paid for. That doesn’t seem like a lot of scholarships for the sport. Just looking at high school teams in Colorado, some average around 50-150 kids. However, collegiate programs often break up those scholarships into partial amounts so to get more athletes on the roster funded. It is not rare to hear athletes getting a 40% athletic scholarship. If you take a different perspective, higher learning just became discounted.
Just to note, this only describes athletic scholarships. Collegiate programs emphasize the fact that you become a student-athlete when entering college. Academic scholarships are just as important and can be paired with athletic scholarships to equal out the cost of tuition. In fact, any type of scholarship can be added, so don’t overlook the millions of scholarships and grants available for students of all types.
This article, by no means, is meant to say obtaining a scholarship is impossible, because it is not. It is more about the athlete finding the right program that matches their needs and provides a good fit.
Every year, programs will evaluate the needs of their team. Scholarship money will be divided into current athletes who proved well by scoring, as well as money to attract new athletes. Scholarships are reflective on the athlete’s ability to score at their respective conference, regional, and national meet. Generally, how you score determines the amount of scholarship you can earn. A first-place finisher (10 points) is generally awarded a full ride, second place (8 points) awarded 80%, all the way down to eighth place (1 point) who is awarded 10% scholarship.
Here is a list of what it takes to score in conferences around Colorado, as well as top times in each Division. Top 25 Collegiate Marks
With that being the general scheme as to how scholarships are awarded, it is logical to pick a school where success is more attainable. Of course, an athlete can always walk on to a program given the coaches approve. The success of walk-ons is rare because the staff is more obligated to take care of their investment first. However, there are highly successful walk-ons that went on to gaining full-ride scholarships and even becoming future Olympians. Once you are on the team, whether walk-on or scholarship, resources are available to all athletes to aid in the success of their career as a student-athlete. Finding the right fit is critical.
Part 3 Coming Soon: What to do next…