MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every year, colleges and universities give out more than $3 billion in athletic scholarships.

But who gets them? How many students earn athletic scholarships? Good Question.

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Rick Allen is the owner of Informed Athlete, a company that helps students navigate NCAA athletic rules.

“There’s a lot of competition out there for athletic scholarships,” Allen said. “The majority of guys you’re going to see in the games, they going to have a full scholarship.”

NCAA rules allow for two ways to give scholarships: head count and equivalency. Head count sports restrict that number of athletes that can receive a scholarship. There are six of those, which essentially mean all scholarships are a full-ride and cannot be split among students. The NCAA has created different limits for each sport per school:

  • Men’s Basketball: 13
  • Women’s Basketball: 15
  • Women’s Gymnastics: 12
  • Women’s Volleyball: 12
  • Women’s Tennis: 8
  • Football: 85
  • (credit: CBS)

    “A full scholarship means their expenses are being covered for tuition fees, room and board, books as well as the cost of attendance,” Allen said. “The cost of attendance can vary from one university to another and each university calculates that based on federal financial aid guidelines.”

    Almost all scholarships are reevaluated on an annual basis. University of Minnesota senior Blake Cashman walked onto the Gopher football team his freshman and sophomore years. He earned his full-ride scholarship his junior and senior year

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    “You’ve definitely got to look at it as something that is a privilege and you got to basically earn it every day,” Cashman said. “As long as you’re working hard, doing the right things, you can expect to have it every year.”

    The equivalency college sports — which include all others — can spread their scholarship money across the team and can divide it among multiple athletes. For example, Division I baseball teams can give out the equivalent of 11.7 scholarships. Softball can give out 12, while men’s and women’s ice hockey can offer 18 each.

    “It’s all up to the coach to make the decision,” said Julian Beckwith, basketball recruiting coach for Next College Student Athlete. “They decide on preference, priorities and what they need on their roster.”

    Division II teams also have NCAA limits on how many athletic scholarships they can give. Division III teams can’t give out athletic scholarships, but the NCAA says 80 percent of those students get some sort of academic or need-based scholarship.

    Competition for some sports is more intense than others. For example, 550,000 boys played high school basketball in 2018, but there were only slightly more than 4,500 D-I men’s basketball scholarships.

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    Allen says there’s less competition for sports less popular in high schools, like rowing and bowling.

    Heather Brown