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The value of college sports

Related resources

Want to play college sports? – Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to ensure you have met amateurism standards and are academically prepared for college coursework.

Probability of going pro – There are more than 460,000 NCAA athletes and the reality is that very few of them will go on to play sports professionally. See the stats.

Investing where it matters – There is a lot of talk about how much money college sports generates. But did you know that more than 90 percent of the NCAA’s revenue goes to support student-athletes? Learn more.

NCAA After the Game™ – We know that most college athletes will go pro in something other than sports. NCAA After the Game is a resources for former college athletes of all ages. It’s the go-to place for help in succeeding on the biggest court of all…life.

A student-athlete's view

Kendall Spencer is a former track student-athlete at the University of New Mexico. He also chairs the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for Division I. Learn more about SAAC.

Why play college sports?

College education

A college degree has a direct impact on a person’s quality of life. A 2013 report by The College Board shows that the median lifetime earnings of bachelor’s degree recipients are 65 percent higher than those of high school graduates.

Academic success

Overall, NCAA student-athletes graduate at rates higher than college students in general. Nearly 13,000 student-athletes have returned to campuses to complete their degrees in the past decade after finishing their athletics eligibility.


More than 150,000 college athletes receive $2.7 billion in athletics scholarships each year from NCAA member colleges and universities.

Student Assistance Fund

Division I student-athletes have access through their campus and conference offices to more than $75 million from the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund. These resources can be used in a variety of ways, from helping students fly home for a family tragedy to purchasing a winter coat.

Elite training opportunities

Student-athletes have regular access to top-notch coaching, facilities and equipment. These resources typically cost Olympic athletes thousands of dollars per year.

Academic and support services

College athletes receive academic support, such as state-of-the-art technology and tutoring, to help them succeed in the classroom.

Healthy living

Student-athletes have access to cafeteria “training tables” on campus, with Division I schools permitted to furnish unlimited meals (Division II will begin offering this benefit in August 2015). In addition, some schools hire nutritionists and dieticians to work with each student-athlete.

Medical care

From medical best practices to playing rules, equipment requirements and a new research partnership with the Department of Defense, the NCAA is committed to student-athlete safety.

Medical insurance

The NCAA funds an insurance policy covering all student-athletes who experience catastrophic injuries while playing or practicing their sports – providing up to $20 million in lifetime insurance benefits for medical expenses and other special needs. In Division I, college athletes are now permitted to borrow against future earnings to purchase loss-of-value insurance.

Exposure and experiences

Student-athletes have the opportunity to travel across the country and around the world for regular-season contests, NCAA championships and foreign tours. These experiences can open doors for the few who will compete professionally and for the majority who will go pro in something other than sports.

Preparation for life

Increasingly, the business world is focusing on creating a team environment with employees. By competing in college sports, student-athletes learn important skills such as leadership, time management and how to work with others toward a common goal.