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Student-athlete numbers keep climbing, but not all sports  keep same pace

Each fall for the past 15 years, the number of NCAA college athletes has stepped closer to reaching 500,000 nationwide. The NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report, based on 2016-17 data, now tags the number of student-athletes at 491,930 — more than double the total when women’s championships were introduced in 1982. Since then, the Association has grown by 364 schools. While the addition of teams in some sports has outpaced the NCAA’s growth, other sports have lagged. 

Here, the sports with the most notable changes over the years, measured by the percentage of schools sponsoring the sport: 


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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.

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