NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 11, 2008

Parents sacrifice weekends and vacations to tournaments and specialty camps, spending thousands each year in this quest for the holy grail: A college athletic scholarship for their child.  Unfortunately, the expectations of parents and athletes can differ sharply from the financial and cultural realities of college athletics, according to an analysis by the New York Times of previously undisclosed data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (N.C.A.A.) and interviews with dozens of college officials.

For instance:

  • Excluding the glamour sports of football and basketball, the average N.C.A.A athletic scholarship is nowhere near a full ride, amounting to only $8,707.
  • In sports like baseball or track and field, the number is routinely as low as $2,000.
  • Even when football and basketball are included, the average is $10,409.
  • Tuition and room and board for N.C.A.A institutions often cost between $20,000 and $50,000 a year.

"People run themselves ragged to play on three teams at once so they could always reach the next level," says Margaret Barry of Laurel, Md., whose daughter is a scholarship swimmer at the University of Delaware.  "They're going to be disappointed when they learn that if they're very lucky, they will get a scholarship worth 15 percent of the $40,000 college bill. What's that? $6,000?"

Source:  Bill Pennington, "College Athletic Scholarships:  Expectations Lose Out to Reality," New York Times, March 10, 2008.

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