College Baseball Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Many high school baseball players hope to play in college. Baseball scholarships are available at most college levels, but they are limited. This article discusses college baseball recruiting and scholarships.

College Baseball Statistics

So, you want to play college baseball. The good news is that there are over 1,600 varsity level college baseball programs. 'Varsity' refers to all players on the official college squad, but does not include club or intramural college teams.

The bad news is that only around 11% of high school baseball players will make a varsity level college baseball roster. That figure includes reserve players, practice squads, and all other varsity team members -- whether or not they ever play in a college game.

As you can see, college baseball roster spots are relatively scarce. College baseball scholarships are even harder to obtain. That's because college baseball is an equivalency sport. Equivalency sports are given a general scholarship 'pot' of a fixed amount. The pot can be divvied between multiple players. For example, a school with a $6,000 scholarship pot can choose to provide six players with a $1,000 scholarship each, or provide one player $4,000 and a second player $2,000, etc.

Because baseball is an equivalency sport, most scholarships are not full-ride scholarships. Full-ride scholarships pay for a student's tuition, room, board, books, and all other college expenses. They are substantial scholarships. When a college awards a full ride, that leaves the college with a smaller pot to divide between other players. Instead, baseball coaches usually divide the pot into as many partial scholarships as possible in order to maximize the number of talented, recruited players on the college roster.

Each college division works a little bit differently, so let's take a closer look at each.

Division I Baseball Scholarships

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, or 'NCAA', governs college athletic programs. The NCAA divides schools into different divisions based generally on school size, athletic budget and level of competition. Division I programs are the largest and most competitive programs with the best athletic funding. These schools recruit the most elite high school players, and players with one or two years of junior college experience. They seek out top-tier players by attending showcase tournaments and hosting prospect camps on campus.

Division I programs are mostly big state schools like the University of Oklahoma. However, there are also smaller Division I baseball programs at some private colleges, like Furman in South Carolina. There are almost 300 Division I baseball programs in the U.S.

Each Division I baseball team is allotted 11.7 full-ride scholarships. That means the school's scholarship pot is equal to the cost of 11.7 full-ride scholarships at that particular school. Remember that the pot can be divided among players however the school chooses, but the school cannot exceed the amount of the pot at any time. Note that the average Division I baseball roster includes 35 players, so it is impossible for all players to receive substantial awards.

Division II and III Baseball Programs

There are over 200 Division II programs, which are mostly medium-sized colleges and universities. Some Division II baseball programs include the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Southern Indiana. Division II programs are allotted nine scholarships per team. Remember that's not per year - it's for the entire team.

Besides the reduction in available scholarship money, the Division II recruiting rules set out by the NCAA are the same as Division I. Note that athletes must be declared 'eligible' by the NCAA in order to compete at the Division I or Division II level. There are many requirements, including at least a 2.3 high school grade point average.

Division II athletes are top-tier baseball players. Some are slightly less accomplished than the Division I recruits, but many players are just as elite and choose to play in Division II. Sometimes players choose Division II because they can gain more playing time or because they have a better chance of receiving a scholarship.

There are also over 300 Division III baseball programs. Division III schools tend to be smaller, private colleges but are some of the most academically prestigious in the country. Amherst College and Washington and Lee University are some examples.

Division III programs do not award athletic scholarships. However, many grant athletes sizable merit scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Some Division III baseball teams carry 40 or more players, making this the division with the most college baseball opportunities.

Division III athletes are some of the best former high school athletes, though many are not qualified to play at the Division I level. Others choose Division III in order to attend an elite university and to maximize playing time. Most Division III players find that they must contact their desired college coaches in order to be recruited. Many players use highlight videos and attend college-hosted camps. It is essential for these players to have good grades in order to be recruited.

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