College Softball Popularity Increasing

College Softball

College Softball Popularity Increasing

In recent years, college popularity has increased and with the changes to the Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City in future years, the growth of college softball will continue to increase. But perhaps you, like I, have wondered about the number of players and colleges playing college softball. It's interesting and worth looking at.

Looking at the most recent figures (2013), the number of schools playing Division I softball is 292, with a total of 5,933 participants or an average team size of 20 players. At the Division II level, 279 schools/colleges sponsor a women's softball team, amounting to 5,440 participants and an average team size of 19 players. Division III has the most number of schools/colleges sponsoring a women's program with 399 and 7,047 total participants and an average team size of 18.

The softball participation, however, doesn't stop there. At the NAIA level, 192 schools/universities offer a women's softball program with 3, 809 participants and an average team size of 20, which is the largest average number of players per school. At the NJCAA level, 354 junior college‚Äôs offer softball with 5,835 participants and an average team  size of 16 players. There are also other divisions and that numbers 140 softball programs with 2,111 participants. Collectively, 1,656 schools/colleges offer varsity softball with 30,175 participants. At the high school level there are 381,116 players in the United States, meaning 7.8 percent of all high school players go on to play college softball. It is certainly interesting and clearly indicates the strong relationship between college and high school softball in this country. And this relationship will only get better in the future.

Softball is an equivalency sport for NCAA scholarships meaning partial scholarships can be awarded to meet the limit per school. Division I has a limit of 12, but an NCAA Division I school can award 24 softball players each a 1/2 scholarship to meet the 12 limit per school. Division Two has a limit of 7.2 scholarships. NCAA Division III and NJCAA schools do not award athletic scholarships but provide other financial assistance that students may qualify for. Athletically based student aid is the average per participating student athlete for all varsity sports sponsored by the specific school. Some athletes receive full awards, some receive partial and many receive none. Additionally, some sports within a school may be fully funded, some partially, and some sports provide no athletically based student aid. Private schools generally have higher tuition than public schools and the average award reflects this.

Besides the varying amounts of college scholarships awarded, the student aid per athlete varies considerably. As you would imagine the Division I athlete has the most student aid per athlete with $14,660.00 while the National Junior College Athletic Association has $2,698 per student athlete. The best thing is thousands of athletes are playing softball and that overall number will only grow in the future as more schools and colleges add a softball program. The best is yet to come for college softball and of course if the sport can be put back into the Olympics in 2020 that would indeed help induce more players to try to play softball at the university or college they are attending. That's the View From Here.