WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE TRACK SCHOLARSHIPS AND TRACK AND FIELD RECRUITING
Finding a track and field scholarship comes down to finding the division level and track program where you can score points for your team at the conference, regional and national level. There are over 970 men’s track and field programs and over 1,000 women’s programs competing at the NCAA DI, DII, DIII, NAIA and NJCAA levels.
The basics of college Track and Field recruiting:
The majority of top track and field college athletes are not on athletic scholarship and finding a DI full ride Track scholarship is very rare. College track and field recruiting is very competitive with large numbers of track athletes trying out for track scholarship places.
Men’s Track programs have a total of 12.6 scholarships per team at the NCAA DI and DII levels, 12 scholarships at the NAIA level and up to 20 for a NJCAA program.
Women’s programs have 18 scholarships per team DI, 12.6 DII, 12 at NAIA and up to 20 per team at the NJCAA level.
How programs use their scholarships:
The following is a general guide; there are exceptions to every rule and ultimately how a team uses their scholarships comes down to their philosophy on how they run their team. Also, not every program has athletes that compete in every event. Some of the programs that are not fully funded might only have track athletes and not recruit athletes for the field events.
Sprints: 60m, 100m, 200, 400m, 4x100m, 4x400m:
Sprinters can be the most valuable point scorers for a college track program and because of this they often receive the majority of scholarship money. Dominant sprinters unlike most other athletes can score in 3 to 4 events in a single meet.
Hurdles: 60m, 100m, 110m, 400m, 4x100m, 4x400m:
Hurdlers can potentially score in multiple events for program but it is often more difficult. At the college level it is very uncommon to see an athlete that can double between the 100m/110m and 400m hurdles. Typically, hurdlers looking to score in multiple events will be on the 4x100m or 4x400m relay teams.
Throws: Shot, Discus, Hammer, Javelin:
If you throw shot and discus you stand the best chance of getting scholarship money as a thrower but only if you are scoring in both events. Typically, athletes who throw the hammer or javelin are more specialists and getting scholarships for these events you will need to be winning or close to winning at the conference and national level.
Distance/Middle Distance: 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m Steeple, 5000, 10,000m, 4x400m:
Distance runners have a great opportunity for track scholarships because they can combine scholarships from cross country and track. While distance runners are often asked to compete in multiple events, scoring in each event is extremely difficult because over the course of a meet you have to run several preliminaries and the miles will add up. The most common doubles are the 1500m and 5000m or the 5000m and 10,000m.
Sometimes really strong middle distance runners are asked to be on the 4x400m team as well. Steepler’s are typically specialists at the college level but can earn money from cross country.
Jumps: Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault:
At the college level jumpers generally become specialists. Getting scholarship money competing in only one event is very difficult but it can be done. It is also happens that sprinters and multi’s athletes will compete in the open jumps. For example, sprinters sometimes compete in the long jump and occasionally a very strong multi’s athlete will compete in the pole vault.
Combines Events: Pentathlon, Heptathlon, Decathlon:
If you are looking to be a multi’s athlete at the college level you need to be prepared to live at the track and be training constantly. Often times an athlete doesn’t begin training for combine events until college and usually they come in with a strong base in one or two of the events. For some athletes this means while they compete in their combine events they might also compete in their strongest event in the open meet.
College track and field athletes are some of the world’s best:
It is not uncommon to see athletes at the college level establishing world leading times and marks in their events. It used to be that it was only at the NCAA DI level you would see these elite levels but now future professionals are coming out of the NCAA DII and NAIA levels. The single best thing to do as an athlete looking to see what level you should compete is to look at the conference and national results for the schools you are interested in and see if you times stack up. You will need to be able to put down times and marks that are going to score points.