BRIDGEPORT, Pa. — The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) released the 2020 Probability of Competing Beyond High School Figures and Methodology based on the high school figures from the 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey and college numbers from the NCAA 2018-19 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.
In men’s water polo, 22,475 high school athletes and 1,072 NCAA athletes competed during the examination period with an overall high school to NCAA percentage of 4.8%. NCAA Division I (2.7%), Division II (0.8%) and Division III (1.3%) institutions comprise the 4.8%.
Among men’s sports, water polo, which has the fewest high school and collegiate participants, is tied with track & field for 10th place among high school to college conversion rate as lacrosse (12.8%), ice hockey (12.3%), baseball (7.5%), football (7.3%), swimming (7.2%), golf (5.9%), soccer (5.6%), cross country (5.3%), tennis (4.9%) top the pair. Volleyball (3.7%), basketball (3.5%) and wrestling (3.0%) all rank behind water polo and track & field.
In women’s water polo, the rate of high school-to-collegiate athletes is slightly higher as 1,217 college players are derived from 21,735 high school participants for a 5.6%. Overall, participants selected to attend Division I (3.3%), Division II (1.1%) and Division III (1.2%) institutions to comprise water polo’s 5.6%.
Water Polo, which has the second fewest high school participants to best ice hockey (9,650), is tied with softball at 5.6% in a comparison of sports. However, ice hockey has the highest conversion rate from high school-to-college as 26.2% of athletes elect to compete on the varsity level. Lacrosse (12.5%), field hockey (10.1%), swimming (7.5%), soccer (7.2%), cross country (7.1%), golf (6.8%) and track & field (6.2%) also top water polo and softball, with tennis (4.5%), basketball (4.1%) and volleyball (3.9%) rounding out the NCAA women’s sports.
|High School Participants||NCAA Participants||Overall % HS to NCAA||% HS to NCAA Division I||% HS to NCAA Division II||% HS to NCAA Division III|
|Track & Field||605,354||28,914||4.8%||1.9%||1.2%||1.7%|
|Track & Field||488,267||30,326||6.2%||2.8%||1.5%||1.9%|
Sources: High school figures from the 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations; data from club teams not included. College numbers from the NCAA 2018-19 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report.
Methodology and Notes:
- High school figures come from the 2018-19 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. College numbers are from the NCAA’s 2018-19 Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report. These college numbers account for participation in college athletics at NCAA-member schools only.
- High school-to-NCAA percentages were calculated by dividing the number of NCAA participants in 2018-19 by the number of HS participants in that same year. This assumes that high school and college rosters are turning over at roughly the same rate (e.g., both HS and college participation numbers include four classes of students and both sets of teams turn over roughly one-quarter of their rosters each year). In prior versions of this table, more complex calculations were used to estimate the number of HS departures and open college roster slots each year; however, these more involved calculations did not lead to substantially different percentages than the simple calculation used currently. Given several potential confounds (e.g., multi-sport participation in high school, frequency of redshirt in NCAA Division I football that would lead to a 5-year rather than 4-year college track), these calculations should be considered approximations and not exact accounting.
- The high school-to-NCAA divisional percentages were calculated by dividing the number of 2018-19 participants within each NCAA division by the total number of HS participants. For example, we estimate that approximately 3.5% of HS boys basketball participants go on to play at an NCAA school (Divisions I, II or III), but only 1.0% of HS participants do so at the Division I level.
- As the high school figures account only for participants on high school teams and not those competing exclusively on club teams or similar, the true pre-college to NCAA percentages could be lower in some sports (e.g., ice hockey, tennis, see this page for sport-specific information regarding club and high school sport participation). Data for several sports (e.g., rowing, skiing, gymnastics) are not shown due to the low number of high school programs in those sports relative to non-scholastic pre-college participation opportunities.