Ivy League Schools & the Recruited Athlete
Ivy League schools do not award athletic scholarships even though as NCAA I schools they could. But these schools can – and do – award other forms of financial aid to recruited athletes. But the big reward for most Ivy league School athletes is simply the opportunity to gain admission.
Last year Harvard received 40,000 applications, of these only about 5% or around 2,000 were accepted. Over 8,000 applications were from students with straight A’s and 3,500 had perfect (800) Math SAT scores. Consequently, Harvard as well as all other school with an excess of applicants with high academic credentials must look at extracurricular and other factors in order to rank applications. This part of the admission process is often referred to as a “black box”. But the lid on this box was peeled back somewhat in 2018 when Harvard became involved in a highly publicized anti-bias lawsuit. The Harvard lawsuit specifically cited the following non-academic factors that can give an edge to an applicant:
|1.||Legacies / Children of Alumni|
|2.||Relatives of a major donor|
|3.||Children of staff / faculty|
|4.||Racial / Ethnic minorities|
Since an individual has no control over his or her origins of birth (and it’s difficult to choose your relatives), few applicants have influence over the first 4 factors. But a combination of athletic talent, hard work at developing skills and focus can place an individual in the recruited athlete category.
And Ivy league schools need athletes: Harvard sponsors 40 teams, Princeton sponsors 36 and Yale sponsors 32. Athletes constitute a significant percentage of the student body at Ivy League schools:
While Harvard’s admission rate is only 5%, varsity athletes constitute 15% of the undergraduate population – 3 times the general admission rate. Princeton has a similar ratio, an admission rate of only 7% but athletes constitute 20% of the undergraduate population. Cornell is the only Ivy where the percentage of enrolled athletes does not exceed the admission rate.
So being an athlete can level the playing field to a significant extent in the admission process. And this is true for many schools, look at the admission rates and athlete percentages for these non-Ivy League schools:
|U.S. Naval Academy||7%||4,526||1,162||26%|
|U.S. Military Academy||9%||4,389||947||22%|
|U.S. Air Force Academy||15%||4,237||686||16%|
|Washington & Lee||24%||1,818||504||28%|
These are just a few examples of some very selective schools with ultra competitive admission rates. And in all cases the percentage of athletes to the undergraduate population exceeds the general admission rate, and in most cases the athlete percentage is significantly higher. All these schools have tip top academics, but they also strive to be competitive on the playing field.
So even if your parents are not alumni and your grandfather isn’t a big donor, you can gain an edge in the admissions process if you have decent grades and can compete on say, the soccer field. The biggest edge an athlete has in the admission process at any school is he or she has a key insider – the team’s coach – aggressively lobbying for that athlete to gain admission.