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NCAA closes in on elusive 500,000 mark

Will this be the year the NCAA hits half a million student-athletes? That’s the question those of us who work in college sports begin asking ourselves every fall, when NCAA research releases the latest NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report. The 2017-18 data released in October 2018 had us oh so close, with 494,992 men and women competing across the 24 NCAA championship sports. So this fall, when NCAA research revealed the data from 2018-19, our breath was bated. Would this be the year? Could the NCAA switch from saying “nearly half a million” to “over half a million”?

The final numbers for 2018-19 show, for the 17th consecutive year, growth in the number of college athletes. They show that the number of female student-athletes is up over the previous year, as is the number of male student-athletes. They show growth in all three divisions. The final tally of NCAA student-athletes: 499,217.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.