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Billion Dollar Industry

The economics of rowing within US collegiate sport

Collegiate athlete is a broadly defined term which applies to hundreds of thousands of student-athletes each year in the United States. A small fraction only compete at the university level for a short amount of time before entering a professional draft, while the vast majority compete for recreation or other non-pecuniary reasons. With few exceptions, all of these athletes and their programs are governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Within these exceptions lies much of the rowing community, which generally operates differently from many conventional NCAA sports. The financial landscape of all of college athletics analyzed here demonstrates tremendous variety between sports due to public interest and regulation, which has overarching impacts, both positive and negative, on all programs top to bottom, from football to rowing.

Memorial Stadium, University of California, Berkeley

The NCAA is a membership-based not for profit organization which has the primary responsibility of regulating all aspects of its sponsored sports within each division. The exceptions standing outside of the NCAA umbrella are those sports not acknowledged as “NCAA sports” which compete within conferences not associated with the NCAA. These sports can be, and frequently are, offered as “varsity teams” by any given university and receive full funding from the school.

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About Row360

Welcome to Row360, the world’s only global, independent rowing magazine. Row360 brings you features from around the world, profiling the best athletes, coaches, and others from the whole rowing community – Olympic, Paralympic, college, club, ocean, and more.