College sports in the United States first appeared in 1843, when students at Yale University organized a boating club. Harvard did the same a year later, and the rival schools competed in the first-ever intercollegiate event in 1852.
This seemingly minor event caused a wave of sports clubs and programs to be created, and the number exploded by the latter half of the 20th century. While colleges originally competed for bragging rights and/or a trophy, athletic departments were soon battling for merchandising, ticket sales, and overall prestige for their respective university.
Thanks to elements such as licensing and advertising, the NCAA generated a revenue of $989 million in 2014. This number is only expected to grow over time, and it’s not unusual to see college coaches earning a higher salary than their big-league counterparts.
Each year, about 400,000 student-athletes compete in college sports. Some of these enjoy full scholarships, while others are forced to get by on student loans and part-time jobs. NCAA rules prohibit students from making any money based on their athletic abilities while enrolled in college. This has led to numerous debates, as many feel it’s unfair for the schools to profit while some students and their families are living at or below the poverty line.
The largest sanctioning organization in college sports is the NCAA. They currently support 1,281 schools and conferences, and the national titles for their sports are often featured on national television and generate billions of dollars for world's best online betting sites, such as this one.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics supports 255 schools and focuses on smaller institutions in the United States and abroad. The National Junior College Athletic Association oversees 525 schools with junior or community college status.
People love to wager on college sporting events. In 2013, for example, it’s estimated that $60-$70 billion was illegally wagered on college football. When you add March Madness to the equation, it becomes clear that everyone is making a buck off college sports besides the actual players on the field.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the most successful schools to include athletic programs. This data not only takes national titles into consideration, but also annual revenue and average attendance.
For an example of a smaller college with an athletic program, let’s look at the New York-based Keuka College. Founded in 1890 by Rev. Dr. George Harvey Ball, this four-year liberal arts school has a student body of just over 1,600 and competes in Division III of the NCAA. Their sports teams wear the school colors of green and gold, and they were known as the Storm until changing their name to the Wolfpack in 2014.
The men’s athletic programs at Keuka College include the following: baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, field hockey, and volleyball. Female student-athletes can choose from the following sports: basketball, golf, cross country, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, field hockey, softball, and volleyball.
While the Wolfpack has captured numerous regular and post-season titles over the decades, they’ve also excelled in emphasizing classroom study to compliment on-field achievements. For example, they landed 76 players on the NEAC’s Scholar-Athlete team during the 2012-2013 academic year, which was the most in the entire North Eastern Athletic Conference.
College sports come in all shapes and sizes, from the nationally-known powerhouses such as Duke and Florida State to smaller—yet equally important—universities like Keuka College. While each of these institutions are competing to win championships, increase enrollment, and generate more money, their ultimate goal (at least on paper) is to provide athletic young men and women with a quality education that can assist them for the rest of their lives. And even if they fail in the latter, at least it gives bettors something to gamble on.