Wednesday, 24 February 2016 23:35

Recruiting Tips: What is an Athletic Scholarship

Written by Jill Hicks
Jill Hicks Jill Hicks (c), Jill Hicks

I meet with club gymnasts and parents every week. After getting to know their backgrounds, skill level and goals, I ask them a question. “Can you define a scholarship?” What I have found is that most parents and gymnast have a basic idea of what a scholarship contains, but they do not know the details.

An athletic scholarship is defined as:  A form of scholarship to attend a university awarded to an individual based predominately on his or her ability to play in a sport.

Its like a job. You are being paid to be the best athlete in your sport that you can be, at practice and in competition. You are representing the university every day.  These athletic scholarships are regulated by the NCAA. The NCAA split its membership into 3 Divisions. Division 1 and 2 can offer athletic scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division 3 may not offer any athletic scholarships.  One of the biggest draws of being a college athlete is the opportunity to being  awarded an athletic scholarship. Getting your education paid for, for doing a sport is an amazing opportunity.

A full athletic scholarship essentially enable recipients to attend college with very little costs. Tuition, fees, books room and board are usually covered in a full athletic scholarship. Also, travel, leotards, academic services and medical issues
are covered by athletic departments, but are not included in each scholarship.  It is estimated there are over 600,000 high school students who play head count sports. About $1billion in athletic scholarship money is awarded annually to approximately 130,000 student athletes. However, there are 25,000 scholarships available for incoming freshman. 

When we just look at the sport of women's gymnastics. There are 61 Division 1 teams that for the most part have 12 scholarships each. On average this equates to 3 scholarships per year to distribute. Which means there are 183 potential scholarships to give out to female freshman gymnasts at the Division 1 level per year.  (Editor's note:  Division II women and Men's programs divide full scholarship equivalent aid among numerous athletes.  They each hold a fewer number of full scholarship equivalents.  Full scholarships on the men's side are extremely rare). 

I always emphasize with my clients that receiving a scholarship is an honor not to be taken lightly. Remembering that attending a college that is right for you and your academics goals should always be your top priority.

About Jill Hicks:

Jill Hicks is a former elite gymnast, Division I college athlete, club coach and Division I college gymnastics coach (Cal State Fullerton, Oregon State) and the owner of Jill Hicks Consulting, where she provides recruiting services and choreography for prospective student-athletes and their families. For further information visit:

Editor's Note:  Publication of this article is not an endorsement of any recruiting service.  Always check with the NCAA or your school's compliance officer for any questions regarding recruiting rules, the latest timelines, or other issues.

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