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Athletics participation rates continue to rise

More than 19,000 teams competed in NCAA sports in 2013-14

The participation rates in NCAA sports continued to rise during the 2013-14 academic year, with the number of teams competing in NCAA championship sponsored sports reaching an all-time high of 19,086.

The total number of teams was determined through an analysis of self-reported data from NCAA member colleges and universities to the NCAA research staff, and also indicated the gap between male and female athletics participation is closing.

The number of championship sports teams sponsored for women increased by 140, and the men’s teams rose by 111 teams.

Lacrosse displayed the greatest growth among both men’s and women’s sports, with 29 new women’s programs added in 2013-14 along with 20 men’s teams. The sport was followed by golf (+23 teams) and indoor track and field (+19) on the women’s side while men’s indoor track and field added 20 programs.

The total number of student-athletes participating in the 23 sports that the NCAA sponsors also reached an all-time high at 472,625. As that number increases, the gap between male and female participation continues to narrow.

Male athletes still outnumber female athletes, comprising 56.6 percent of the total student-athlete population. In 2013-14, NCAA member schools fielded an average of 430 student-athletes, including 243 males and 187 females.

Every year since 2003-04, around 53 percent of the teams participating in NCAA championship events were women’s teams. Since 2007-08, the average NCAA member school sponsored an average of 17 teams — eight for men and nine for women.

Historically, while the average number of female student-athletes on campus has increased since 1981-82, the average number of male student-athletes on campus has decreased. However, beginning in 2008-09, there has been slight increase in the average number of male student-athletes per school. Compared to the 1981-82 academic year, the average NCAA school now has approximately 88 more female student-athletes and 18 more males.