How Baseball Scholarships Actually Work


Between NCAA schools, NAIA schools, and junior colleges, there are just over 1,650 college baseball programs with roughly 35,000 college baseball players in the country. The competition for roughly 5,400 scholarships is fierce. Baseball is an equivalency sport, which means that scholarships can be divided up and given to multiple players. A full-ride scholarship for baseball players is rare. Here, we break down the facts about baseball scholarships. 

How many baseball scholarships are allowed: Number of baseball scholarships by division level

College Baseball Scholarship Chart

Between NCAA schools, NAIA schools, and junior colleges, there are just over 1,650 college baseball programs with roughly 35,000 college baseball players in the country. The competition for roughly 5,400 scholarships is fierce. Baseball is an equivalency sport, which means that scholarships can be divided up and given to multiple players. A full-ride scholarship for baseball players is rare. Here, we break down the facts about baseball scholarships. 

How many baseball scholarships are allowed: Number of baseball scholarships by division level

The NCAA D1 Council passed legislation that relaxed regulations on need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not contingent on athletic ability. Baseball teams' need- and academic-based aid will not be counted against the maximum athletic scholarship limit beginning August 1, 2020. Prior to this rule change, athletes had to meet certain requirements in order for their additional aid not to count against a team's athletic scholarship limit. 

Baseball teams will continue to have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes will be able to apply for as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. With the coronavirus affecting both school and family budgets, this rule change should allow baseball programs with the resources to give more money to families and athletes in need, particularly at more prestigious private colleges. 

It should be noted that athletic scholarships are not available through Ivy League or Patriot League programs. Division 3 schools are no exception. It is also important to understand that the scholarship limits per team are the maximum number of scholarships that a school can award and distribute among team members. However, this does not always indicate how many scholarships a team will have. Some Division 1 programs, for example, may offer less than 11.7 scholarships to athletes. This is because not all teams are fully funded, which means that the athletic department at the school does not provide them with the maximum number of scholarships available at their level. 

D1 baseball scholarships

  • Total baseball programs: 298
  • Maximum scholarships available per program: 11.7

Division 1 baseball programs typically begin recruiting earlier than other division levels, with some verbal offers and commitments made by the time an athlete enters his or her sophomore year of high school. 

According to NCAA rules, a Division 1 baseball team's 11.7 scholarships can be divided among a maximum of 27 players on a 35-player roster, with all players on athletic scholarship receiving at least a 25% scholarship. This leaves eight spots open for walk-ons. These players will not be offered an athletic scholarship at first, but they may be offered one in the future. Athletes must complete 10 of their 16 core courses before their senior year of high school:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical science
  • One additional year of English, math or natural/physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy 

Athletes must have a minimum GPA of 2.3 on a 4.0 scale. The sliding scale determines how high their ACT or SAT score must be; the higher a recruit's GPA, the lower their test scores can be. Athletes must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center in order to play at the Division 1 or Division 2 levels. Starting this after your sophomore year of high school is recommended by the NCAA. Where can I find AAU baseball tryouts in my area? 

D2 baseball scholarships

  • Total baseball programs: 259
  • Maximum scholarships available: 9 

Some Division 2 baseball players have the ability to play for a Division 1 program but choose to play Division 2 because they can play earlier in their career. Some athletes drop a division because they are eligible for more athletic scholarship money. Remember that the best way to earn more money is to be the best player in your division. Division 2 programs will also identify prospects early in the process and will typically make verbal offers prior to the early signing period, which occurs during a student-senior athlete's year. 

The NCAA's academic eligibility requirements are comparable to those of Division 1. Recruits must complete the following core course requirements to compete at the Division 2 level:

  • Three years of English and math
  • Two years of natural/physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Two extra years of English, math, or science and four years of a foreign language, philosophy, or religion, or additional years of any of the above categories 

Division 2 schools also use a sliding scale to determine what test scores the athlete needs to be based on their core-course GPA.

D3 baseball scholarships

  • Total baseball programs: 374
  • Maximum scholarships available: 0

Division 3 programs do not provide athletic scholarships, but they can put together competitive financial aid packages that compete with athletic scholarships at higher levels. Division 3 programs typically have limited recruiting budgets and rely on student-athletes reaching out to them with video footage to be evaluated to express their interest. 

There are no NCAA academic requirements, as there are in Divisions 1 and 2, with each university setting its own standards. Many Division 3 schools, on the other hand, are academically rigorous. Athletes should research the admissions requirements of their desired schools to ensure they are eligible.

NAIA baseball scholarships

  • Total baseball programs: 212
  • Maximum scholarships available: 12

While scholarships are frequently distributed as partial scholarships among many players on the roster, many high-level players will choose to play at the NAIA level in order to obtain a better athletic scholarship package. Academically, athletes must meet two of the three requirements listed below:

  • Finish in the top half of their graduating class
  • A minimum 2.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale)
  • 850 on the SAT or 16 on the ACT 

Recruits must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center to be eligible to compete at the NAIA level. 

Junior college baseball scholarships

  • Total baseball programs: 511
  • Maximum scholarships available: 24

Junior college baseball is designed to provide players with two years (occasionally one year) of athletic and academic development. After graduating from junior college, many athletes hope to find a good fit with a four-year program. Many junior college baseball programs have high-level talent and a history of placing their players at solid NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 programs. 

Academically, recruits must have completed high school or a state-approved GED. Those who have not completed high school must complete 12 college credits with a minimum GPA of 1.75. 

Can you get a full-ride baseball scholarship?

It is extremely rare. As previously stated, baseball programs have a limited number of baseball scholarships available to the entire team. That figure is 11.7 at the Division 1 level. Coaches distribute partial scholarships to their roster. Furthermore, the position an athlete plays can be a factor. Typically, the majority of a program's scholarship money goes to pitchers, catchers, and the best hitters. 

How long is a baseball scholarship good for?

The majority of athletes will sign a one-year scholarship agreement with their program, ensuring their athletic scholarship for that year. The athlete must renew their scholarship for each of the following years. Multi-year scholarship agreements are permitted but are rarely used by baseball teams. 

What constitutes an excellent baseball scholarship offer?

What constitutes a "good" baseball scholarship offer is difficult to define. Baseball is an equivalency sport, so coaches can distribute scholarships as they see fit across their rosters. Another consideration is the variable cost of tuition. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees at public colleges for state residents is around $10,000. Private college tuition and fees average around $35,000 per year. A 50% offer from a state school would be $5,000, whereas a similar offer from a private college would be around $17,500. 

Remember that an offer for 100% tuition is not a full ride because it does not include books, fees, or housing. We advise families to enter the recruiting process with a clear financial picture of how much they are willing to pay for four years of college. This will enable them to evaluate scholarship offers based on what they are willing to pay out of pocket.

What impact does your position have on your scholarship?

Pitchers, catchers, shortstops, and center fielders are the top positions for baseball recruiting. Coaches usually build their rosters from the middle of the field out. Other positions may be considered for scholarships, depending on the coach's specific roster requirements. 

How likely am I to receive a baseball scholarship?

College baseball is a highly competitive sport. There were approximately 492,000 high school baseball players in the United States during the 2016–2017 school year. There were approximately 52,000 college baseball players. That means that approximately 9% of high school players went on to compete at the collegiate level. Less than 2% progress to NCAA Division 1 competition! 

How do you bargain for a baseball scholarship?

Baseball scholarship discussions have an etiquette of credibility. An introductory email, for example, is not the place to tell a coach, "I'm looking for a scholarship." The most likely time to discuss scholarships will be on campus, in person with the coach. This can occur during an official or unofficial visit. A recruit's strongest negotiating position is one in which they have received offers from other schools. College baseball is a cutthroat sport, and no coach wants to lose a prized recruit to another program. Rather than declaring, "This is the number we need," it may be more productive to tell the coach, "This is the number we had in mind; is there a way to make this number work in the future?" when negotiating a scholarship offer. Learn how to negotiate your scholarship offer.

 

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