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NCAA Student-Athlete Pool Grows for 17th Straight Year

Brock Fritz

There have never been more NCAA athletes than there are now.

The NCAA reported that the 2018-19 school year saw 499,217 student-athletes competing in sports in which the NCAA conducts championships. That represents an all-time high, as does the 19,886 teams that competed across the three NCAA divisions last year.

The number of student-athletes increased by 4,225 from 2017-18 to 2018-19, marking the 17th straight year of growth. Universities have continued to show that they view athletics as an important part of the college landscape.

“It is gratifying to see the number of students who represent their schools as college athletes continue to increase,” NCAA chief operating officer Donald Remy said in the release, which noted that the number of student-athletes has more than doubled since the NCAA began tracking participation data in 1981-82. “Our member schools strive to create those life-changing opportunities for as many students as possible.”

The number of student-athletes increased across all three NCAA divisions in 2018-19. There were 182,681 Division I student-athletes, 122,722 Division II athletes and 193,814 Division III athletes. The highest growth was in Division III, which had 1,779 more athletes than in 2017-18.

All three levels have a greater percentage of men than women competing, with men accounting for 53% of Division I athletes, 58% of Division II athletes and 58% of Division III athletes. Overall, men made up 56% of the 499,217 student-athletes in 2018-19. Both genders have continued to grow, with an increase of 2,118 women and 2,107 men last year.

Women’s athletics have grown since the NCAA began offering women’s championships in 1981-82. There have been more women’s teams than men’s teams every year since 1996-97. There were 74 new women’s teams and 67 new men’s teams last year, increasing the overall numbers to 10,660 women’s teams and 9,226 men’s teams.

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