The vast majority of colleges, both in the NCAA and NAIA combine track scholarships with cross country scholarships. If you’re a good track athlete and strong cross country runner you will have a better chance of landing a track and field scholarship. This is because you will be able to compete in two college sports, basically double the value for a college coach.
The scholarship limits you see below reflect this. The more versatility you have on the track, the more attractive you are for the track coach. College athletic coaches also recruit based on a number of other factors including ability, academics and room for improvement.
Over 850 colleges affiliated with the NCAA actively compete in track and field and cross country running. 233 division one schools compete, with each college being able to offer 12.6 full scholarships for men and 18 for women. Division two colleges also have 18 track and field scholarships for women and 12.6 for men. 303 NCAA DIII colleges compete in track and field and cross country, but there are no scholarships awarded at this level. Other forms of financial aid may be available at D3 schools. All track/cross country scholarships in the NCAA are classed as partial or equivalency scholarships, which means a coach can break up the full scholarships into partial scholarships if they choose too.
152 colleges affiliated with the NAIA offer track and field/cross country as a scholarship sport. There are 12 scholarships allocated to both men and women. Track and field is classed as an equivalency sport in the NAIA.
75 JUCO colleges sponsor intercollegiate track and cross country programs. 20 scholarships can be awarded to both men and women.
What can you do to improve your chances of landing a scholarship?
- Strong Grade. College coaches are looking to recruit athletes who are strong academically and who will remain academically eligible throughout college.
- Attend Camps. A large number of colleges host cross country/track camps. Try to attend these if possible, especially at the schools you’re most interested in attending. Camps can give you that extra exposure to coaches and scouts.
- Create a Recruiting Profile. The great thing about track and cross country is that each individual has a best time or best distance in field events. This makes it easier for coaches to evaluate your ability and for you to know what level of competition suits you best. Get your results online for coaches to see!
- You need to be proactive with your college track and field recruiting. Don’t be afraid to contact college coaches and share updates of your performances and where you will be competing.
For more resources and information check out Track & Field.