College Bowling Scholarships & Recruiting Information

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore the college bowling scholarship scene. We also discuss a few helpful tips to aid student-athletes in the recruiting process.


Bowling is a great pastime. It can be done on a date or a birthday party, or more seriously as part of a competitive league. Over the past quarter century, bowling has gained popularity as a competitive sport at the high school and college levels.

For the country's top high school bowlers, the sport may even provide a chance to help pay for their education. The rest of this lesson will examine the scholarship scene in the sport of bowling and some helpful tips for getting recruited.

Women Only

Unfortunately for male bowlers, this is where the lesson ends: there are no scholarships offered by men's bowling teams at the four-year collegiate level and very few schools in the NCAA that have men's programs. If you are passionate enough about bowling that you still want to compete at the collegiate level despite not being able to attain a scholarship, an NAIA school is your best bet.

The caveat to this statement is that roughly two dozen schools in the National Junior College Athletic Association do offer up to 12 scholarships per team to male bowlers. Junior colleges are geared toward a specific type of student, which includes those who want to complete a career training program or earn a two-year degree before making the leap to a four-year program at another school. So, unless this specific set of circumstances matches your own, the NJCAA is likely not an option.


For women, just over 100 schools field a competitive bowling team and only around 80 offer scholarships. Of these, about 20 compete in the NJCAA (which also offers up to 12 scholarships to female bowlers per team), so these will only be an option if you meet the criteria discussed above. The other 60 or so schools compete at either the NCAA Division I or NCAA Division II level; NCAA Division III and NAIA schools do not offer scholarships to bowlers.

Both NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II programs can offer up to five scholarships to female bowlers per team. Unfortunately, this does not cover every bowler, as the average bowling team carries nine women. But bowling is considered an equivalency sport by the NCAA, meaning coaches can divide scholarships any way they like. Coaches tend to spread scholarships around to cover as many student-athletes as possible, so there's a good chance you will only receive a partial scholarship. If this happens to you, you will need to have another source of funds to pay for the rest of your education.

Be Proactive

Bowling is a relatively new and low profile collegiate sport. As such, most bowling coaches don't have much of a budget, and none can afford to spend what little money they have traveling the country recruiting new bowlers.

That means if you want to attain a scholarship in bowling, you need to be proactive. Contact the athletic departments of schools you are thinking of attending to see if they have a bowling program, and if they do, get the coach's contact information. Coaches still likely won't be able to attend your matches, but they might track your results in order to assess whether you can help their program.

Getting on a coach's radar early is important to potentially earning a bowling scholarship.

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