15 Best College Athletic Programs | 2023 Ranking

According to the 2015-16 High School Athletics Participation Survey, nearly eight million high school students in the United States participate in sports.

Many of these students will continue to participate in their chosen sport in college, and many will base their college choice on the athletic program offerings.

Fortunately for such aspiring athletes, there are numerous universities across the country with outstanding athletic programs that will allow them to demonstrate their abilities and more.

In this article, we’ll showcase the best college athletics programs in the United States. 

What Makes A Great Student-Athlete

Being a student-athlete means excelling in the classroom as well as on the field or court. It takes a significant amount of time, effort, and stamina. Knowing how to adapt and overcome challenges is critical for success in your program and growth as an athlete.

A great and successful student-athlete does not just appear. In reality, one is usually formed over months, if not years, rather than a few days or weeks. To be a great student-athlete, you must have unwavering determination and be willing to put in the effort.

It implies that you have or will develop the characteristics to help you achieve your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

It also implies that you are well prepared to face complex challenges and sacrifice to be the best you can be throughout your college career.

The life skills you gain as a college student-athlete will be extremely beneficial later in life. The most important thing you can do right now is to balance your commitments. Academic and athletic responsibilities will pile up quickly at the start of college.

Finding the right balance for you will help you feel prepared and ready to face whatever comes your way. It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to balance your studies and practices with social activities, relaxation, and sleep.

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Important Role of Colleges Athletics Programs to Students

The importance of athletics in schools is not overstated. It has far-reaching consequences for individuals, schools, and communities.

Athletics is powerful because it can bridge gaps, bring people together who would not otherwise interact, and provide opportunities that are not available elsewhere.

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Here are some importance of college athletics.

#1. Prepares students for the future

Students who participate in sports gain a sense of future preparedness. Being a college athlete teaches teenagers that others rely on them.

Students learn self-discipline, motivation, and leadership skills that will help them build meaningful life. Missing a practice or arriving late has consequences, which is a lesson they will remember as they enter the workforce.

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#2. Teaches students time-management skills

Students who participate in sports frequently have to juggle hectic schedules. Learning how to manage time efficiently between school, practice, games, and friends is a skill that most college athletes quickly master.

Students must be able to prioritize their time and become efficient in their tasks to achieve success. This is also necessary for adulthood and will prepare them for juggling responsibilities in the future.

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#3. Supports a life of health and wellness

We are all aware that leading an active lifestyle is far healthier than living a sedentary one. Athletic participation in college athletics programs teaches the value of movement and physical fitness.

When these values are well emphasized to students, they are much more likely to maintain these habits as they grow. A physically active person will face fewer health risks in the future.

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How to Become a Successful College Athletes

Student-athletes, like all college students, must learn to balance their responsibilities with time for their physical and mental health. Here are some tips for becoming a successful college athlete. 

#1. Create a daily or weekly schedule

Creating and sticking to a daily or weekly schedule as a college athlete can help you establish a routine.

When you have a lot on your plate, having specific deadlines and reminders will help you stay on track and hold yourself accountable.

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#2. Practice time management

As a student-athlete, learning how to manage your time is likely the most important piece of advice you will receive.

It is a tip that will not only help you as a student-athlete but will also help you in life. Good time management skills will assist you in prioritizing and completing tasks efficiently and on time.

#3. Write down and track your goals

The mental health of student-athletes should be always prioritized as well. Setting and tracking goals will help you manage stress and maintain your mental health.

You will have a better understanding of how much time you need for each after creating a schedule and practicing your time management skills.

This knowledge is essential because it will assist you in better preparing for future responsibilities.

#4. Get to Know Your Professors

Take the time at the beginning of each semester to introduce yourself to your professors.

Arrive a few minutes early or stay after class to share more information about your hectic schedule.

Attending a professor’s office hours is another great way to ask questions and speak with them if you have a problem or concern.

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15 Best College Athletic Programs 

Here are the best college athletic programs in 2022:

#1. University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida

The University of Florida Gators made even more history by winning all three Southeastern Conference All-Sports titles in 2016-17. This feat has never gotten accomplished by any other school in the history of the conference – and yet, astonishingly, it was the Gators’ 16th victory.

Furthermore, the new trophies increased the Gators’ total league titles to an astounding 234 – a total that outnumbers all of their Southeastern Conference rivals. When it comes to NCAA team championships,

University of Florida athletes has done exceptionally well, with 30 such trophies won during the Gators’ history, including two for the men’s basketball team, three for the football team, and seven for the women’s tennis team.

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#2. Stanford

In the modern era, Stanford has won almost everything except a football national championship (the last one coming in 1940).

However, with David Shaw as the program’s head coach and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Bryce Love as the main attraction this season, the Cardinals are definitely on the shortlist to do so out West. Stanford is one of the best college athletic programs in the U.S. 

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#3. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Los Angeles, California

ULCA has one of the best college athletic programs in the United States. They have won 119 NCAA titles! In that regard, they are only second to Stanford University.

UCLA’s success is not due to one or two sports: these titles are always won by the entire student-athlete program!

Many Olympic athletes have also been first trained by the UCLA Bruins. These Bruins athletes have won 125 gold, 65 silver, and 60 bronze medals between them.

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#4. University of Connecticut – Storrs, Connecticut

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team has dominated the varsity sport for much of the last 25 years, winning 11 NCAA championships.

They have also appeared in the Final Four 18 times and have broken records left and right. Connecticut, the only women’s team in Division I to win four consecutive NCAA championships, also racked up an incredible 111-game winning streak from 2014 to 2017.

With all this, there is no doubt that the University of Connecticut has one of the best college athletic programs. 

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#5. Texas

Shaka Smart has delivered as expected in his first three seasons as the Longhorns’ men’s basketball coach, but the Texas administration remains optimistic that this will change.

Football has a similar sense of optimism, with Tom Herman entering his second season with high expectations.

Texas is a money-printing athletic department that shows no signs of slowing down, but a revenue sport needs a national title soon to push the Longhorns back to the national forefront. Texas has one of the best college athletic programs in the United States. 

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#6.The University of North Carolina at Chapel hill – Chapel hill, North Carolina

When you say the University of North Carolina, you say Michael Jordan. The university’s legend. Its basketball program at the University of North Carolina was and still has one of the best college athletics programs in the country.

The North Carolina Tar Heels have also had a very strong women’s soccer team. They have won 21 national titles. The Tar Heels sent seven players to the 2019 Women’s Soccer World Championships. Among them were five Americans who won the world title!

The field hockey program at the University of North Carolina is another worthy of mention. The UNC field hockey team has been the team to beat in recent years.

They have won back-to-back national championships in the last three years. They had previously won the championship six times.

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#7. University of Oregon – Eugene, Oregon

The University of Oregon has one of the best college athletic programs. This makes sense because the University of Oregon’s track and field program has produced men’s and women’s teams that are among the best in the country considering that it’s dubbed “Track Town, USA.”

The university’s women’s team, in particular, can take pride in an incredible run of seven consecutive NCAA indoor championship victories since 2010, along with outdoor triumphs in 2015 and 2017.

The Ducks’ cross-country teams are also quite impressive; the men’s team won back-to-back NCAA championships in 2007 and 2008, while the women won in 2012 and 2016.

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#8. University of Arizona – Tucson Arizona

The softball team of the University of Arizona has had the most success. They have won the national championship eight times in the past 30 years!

They have one of the top softball programs in the nation, if not the best. The basketball and baseball teams for the Arizona Wildcats consistently produce winning performances.

Through this, they have developed a large number of professional athletes. 90 baseball players have played in the MLB, while 75 basketball players got selected for the NBA.

Puk Stubbe, a volleyball player for Slamstox, is a devoted Wildcat who works hard for her team to maintain their seventh-place ranking on this list.

Wildcats, go! With all this, the University of Arizona deserves the title of having one of the best college athletics programs. 

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#9. The University of Oklahoma – Norman, Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma has one of the best college athletics programs. Their trophy cabinet received four more NCAA team championship medals in 2017.

The school’s men’s golf and gymnastics teams won two of them, while the women’s softball and gymnastics teams—both of which had won NCAA championships in 2016—captured the other two.

However, football has arguably been Oklahoma’s most successful program historically; just ask famed graduate and seven-time NFL Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson.

After all, the Sooners have won more games than any other college team since 1946, routinely finish higher than their opponents in the Associated Press College Football Poll, and have won the most NCAA-recognized titles in college football since the end of World War II.

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#10. University of Alabama- Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University of Alabama’s American football program merits a lot of praise. The NFL, the top level of football in the world, received 375 (!) players from them. The student-athletes with the Alabama Crimson Tide excel in other sports as well.

They won the NCAA championship 26 times in all. In addition to that, the Crimson Tide has won over 100 conference championships and an additional 95 individual collegiate championships. The University of Alabama has one of the best college athletics programs in the country. 

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#11. Duke University – Durham, North Carolina

On the basketball floor, Duke University athletes are undoubtedly the smartest. To date, the men’s team has won a record 19 ACC tournament championships, one more than its archrivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Furthermore, the Blue Devils have reached the NCAA Tournament Final Four 16 times, winning five national championships along the way.

In recent years, the women’s basketball team has excelled, winning three ACC titles since 2010 and finishing as tournament runners-up in 2014 and 2017.

Perhaps they’re inspired by Cameron Indoor Stadium, which author Hazel Landwehr calls “the crown jewel of collegiate basketball’s historic settings.”

Indeed, she claimed that “more than a few [Duke] victories were due to the electrifying environment within its confines.” Duke University has one of the best college athletic programs in the country. 

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#12. University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California

The University of Southern California has won the most men’s NCAA championships than any college in the United States. Nine of these 84 titles have come in water polo, all under coach Jovan Vavic, and four have come in tennis, all from 2009 to 2012.

However, it is the Trojans’ women’s teams that have recently led the way, having won NCAA titles in beach volleyball, golf, and water polo since 2013.

Furthermore, the university has strong linkages to Olympic success. The University of Southern California has one of the best college athletics programs in the country. 

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#13. Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

In recent years, Louisiana State University has been one of the most consistent producers of future NFL players.

46 former Tigers were still playing in the NFL as of 2016, including three-time Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr., two-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, and Patrick Peterson, who made six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2011 to 2016.

Such accomplishments may have inspired the Baton Rouge institution to boost Tiger Stadium’s capacity to a little over 102,000 in 2014. Louisiana State University currently has one of the best college athletics programs in the country. 

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#14. University of Maryland – College Park, Maryland

The University of Maryland has one of the best college athletics programs in the country. It specializes in women’s lacrosse, having won 13 NCAA championships in the sport, including seven in a row from 1995 to 2001.

After winning the championship in 2017 with a win against Ohio State, the men’s team will most likely be hoping to start a similar run.

Having won eight National Championships to date, the women’s field hockey team is nearly as dominant as their lacrosse counterparts, and the University of Maryland is one of just two universities to have won NCAA championships in both men’s and women’s basketball. 

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#15. The Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio

One of The Ohio State University’s greatest claims to fame in athletics has been consistency.

For example, in 2017, the Buckeyes defeated Brigham Young University for the second consecutive year to win the men’s volleyball NCAA championship, while the women’s rowing team won three straight NCAA Championships from 2013 to 2015.

CBS Sports called Ohio State the best college athletics program in the United States.

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Positive Impact of Sports on Education

Sport and physical activities must be carefully designed and effectively implemented to achieve educational goals. Here are some positive impacts of sports on education. 

#1. Academic achievement

There is a widespread belief that devoting curriculum time to sports and physical activity will hurt pupils’ academic achievement by taking time away from ‘essential’ subjects.

However, evidence shows that engagement in sports and physical activity, both inside and outside of the classroom, improves kids’ academic performance and efficiency.

#2. Learning

Integrating sport and physical activity into young people’s routines improves students’ ability to learn and apply new skills and knowledge.

According to research, participating in mild to moderate physical activity, particularly in the morning, can have a significant and positive impact on a student’s capacity to acquire knowledge and experience, as well as use organizational, inhibitory, and memory skills.

#3. Concentration and focus

Regular participation in sports and physical activity is well associated with improved levels of attentiveness in the classroom.

High levels of attention have a favorable impact on academic achievement because they improve a student’s capacity to concentrate on, absorb, and recall knowledge and subject materials.

#4. Cognitive and neurological function

Sport and physical exercise have a good impact on academic performance because they increase blood flow to the brain, increase levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, and increase growth factors that help produce new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity.

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How to Balance Sports and Academics 

Participating in collegiate sports provides students with many benefits and opportunities.

However, there is always the risk of being overly focused on athletics and neglecting one’s schoolwork. Here are a few tips for balancing sports and academics:

#1. Organization

To pull this off, you must be a well-organized student. First, make a calendar for both your school and sports.

#2. Plan Each Week in Advance

Preparation is vital in all aspects of life; even a modest plan can ensure that a student meets all of their weekly objectives.

Students should organize their week in the same way that an essay writer should outline their assignment before writing it. Preparing for the week includes avoiding surprises.

Examine your calendar regularly, and before each week begins, determine the finest study periods and even how you use that study time. On the sports front, you can plan out the various training regimens you will fit into your week and where they will be appropriate.

#3. Fight Procrastination

It is quite easy to put off an assignment or even a training session until later simply because you do not feel like it.

However, it’s detrimental to your entire routine. Any serious student’s adversary is procrastination.

Procrastinating students frequently compete with deadlines, which contributes to stress and anxiety. They are also less productive because of the rush.

Any timetable you devise will be ineffective if you continue to procrastinate. As a result, one must push themselves even when distracted or sluggish.

#4. Make Use of Your Weekends

While there is an unspoken rule that they should usually spend weekends resting, you can devote a few hours of your weekend to your studies and preparation for the following week.

Recognize the need for rest and recuperation. So, while you should spend some time relaxing on weekends, you should also strive to study.

Read ahead whenever feasible, or take some time from your weekend to catch up on notes if you are behind.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which collegiate sports are the most profitable?

It comes as no surprise that football is the most profitable collegiate sport. Each year, college football brings in an average of $31.9 million per school.

How long do college athletes practice?

Students report spending an average of 21 hours per week on obligatory sporting activities, which is only one hour higher than the 20-hour restriction.

Are college athletes compensated?

College athletes in California now have full legal rights to earn money for their talent and hard work.

What opportunities are there in the sports field for science students?

Opportunities in the sports field for science students include Physical Education Teachers, Personal trainers, Sports psychologists, Health Advice officers, Medical instructors, Sports physiotherapists, and Health Services leaders.

What GPA are NCAA athletes have to have?

What are the GPA requirements for the NCAA? To compete at the NCAA Division I level, a 2.3 GPA in authorized core courses is necessary, as well as an SAT score of 900 or an ACT cumulative score of 75.

How do walk-ons work in college?

If you want to walk on at your preferred institution, speak with the coach as soon as possible. Depending on your sport, you may need to discuss statistics and achievements before the coach allows you to try out.


There is our list of the best college athletics programs in the United States.

If you are searching for a college with good athletic programs, then this article is a perfect guide for you.

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