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Putting Rio Within Reach

This month, thousands of athletes will head to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic games to showcase their skills. But for more than 1,000 of them – including three-quarters of Team USA – that opportunity started forming on a college campus, working with world-class coaches, honing their talents while studying for their degrees, competing for hundreds of universities around the United States before competing for their countries. These are the stories of the paths that brought them to Rio.


By the Numbers

For more than 1,000 Olympic athletes, the opportunity to showcase athletic skills started on a college campus.

Coach Me if You Can

Olympics-seasoned college coaches share their games strategies before Rio. Read More.

Seeing it Through

Chaz Davis lost his sight after one cross country season. But he couldn’t give up on running. Read More.

NCAA to Rio

More than 1,000 student-athletes are competing for dozens of countries at the Olympics. Read More.

The Experience

College athletics teaches hundreds of thousands of young people the skills needed to succeed each year, whether it’s on the field, in the careers they pursue after their playing careers or, for a fortunate few, in competition among the world’s best athletes in the Olympics. During their college careers, these athletes found a platform to develop their skills, build their confidence and understand how to compete on the international stage.

What Student-Athletes Can Receive

When college athletes compete on the international stage, questions naturally arise about the support they are able to receive to help them in their quest for Olympic glory. Here are answers to some of those questions.


Do student-athletes have to pay their own way to the Olympics if they’re competing?

College athletes have a few options for helping to cover actual and necessary expenses to compete in the Olympics. For example, they can accept funds for actual and necessary expenses from either the national governing body or their NCAA school.

Can college athletes accept prize money at the Olympics?

College athletes who are representing their country may accept prize money from their country’s Olympics governing body (in the United States, that would be the United States Olympic Committee). There is no limit to the award money that the governing body can provide for the Olympics.

Can families crowdfund to travel to the Olympics to watch their college athletes compete?

For families of collegiate Olympians, crowdfunding for actual and necessary expenses (including travel) from outside sources, including directly from a commercial organization, is allowed. However, boosters, agents and professional sports organizations may not make donations to a family’s crowdfunding site. Generally speaking, the NCAA waiver process is available to schools that would like boosters to be able to contribute to those funds, and those waivers are handled on a case-by-case basis. 

What if the semester starts while the student-athlete is competing in Rio?

Participating in the Olympics may require student-athletes to balance academic demands with the opportunity to compete on an international level. NCAA rules require that member schools have policies in place for missed class time. However, each school will work on an individual basis with its student-athletes who are Olympians.