Top 10 Colleges with Highest Student-Athlete Percentage

It’s long been stated that it’s best to surround yourself with those who have similar goals as you.

A recent survey from Match College released the 2021 Alternative College Ranking Index, which shows which colleges have the highest sports participation among the country’s 50 biggest institutions. The measurement key is the number of student-athletes per every 10,000 undergraduates.

Below is an excerpt from’s breakdown of the top 10 schools with the highest percentage of student-athletes on campus.

10. Missouri

  • Student-Athletes: 2.44%

percentageRecent information showed that Missouri had an enrollment just shy of 30,000 undergraduate students. There’s plenty of athletic talent in the Midwest region of the country and with a campus located in Columbia, Missouri, the Tigers find themselves just two hours away from the St. Louis area, where talent runs deep. Missouri was a longtime member of the Big 8/Big 12 Conference but made the move to the SEC which allows athletes to compete in a different region of the country, seeing some bigger schools and also opens up a recruiting base to some rather large areas in the south.

9. Ohio State

  • Student-Athletes: 2.47%

There are not that many names in college sports that carry as much weight on name alone as Ohio State University does. In fact, most refer to it as THE Ohio State University. The colors, the stadiums/arenas and so much more make playing college sports in Columbus, Ohio, all the more exciting. Not to mention the success that the school has in its sports. Of course, the football program is the most notable of those programs.

  • Student-Athletes: 2.65%

Nearly 25,000 undergraduate students share their passion for Volunteer athletics and of those students, Tennessee finds itself in the top 10 of this unique list. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a school’s tradition like Tennessee and while the football program is incredibly historic, the women’s basketball program at Tennessee is one of the most notable ones in the history of the entire sport.

7. Wisconsin

  • Student-Athletes: 2.71%

It’s such a popular location to attend school that over 43,000 students were actively enrolled at the school, according to recent records. And the athletic programs for the Badgers have been incredibly successful, with as many as 30 NCAA National titles claimed by the school.

6. Utah

  • Student-Athletes: 2.81%

Located in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah has just over 33,000 students enrolled, which is an increase from its enrollment in the 2019 school year. Things got easier for the Utes in athletics when they made the move from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 Conference at the start of the 2011-12 school year.

5. Oregon State

  • Student-Athletes: 2.97%

Most people think of Oregon before Oregon State in athletics due to the flashy uniforms that the football team wears and the unique basketball floor that the teams play on. But over 33,000 students still decide to go to school in Corvallis, as opposed to going to Oregon in Eugene. The Beavers haven’t had as much national success in recent years but this year could be changing things.

4. UMass-Amherst

  • Student-Athletes: 2.98%

Seeing Massachusetts so high on this list might come as a shock to some people. But with a student enrollment of 22,660 and plenty of sports for those students to compete in, one can see how the Minutemen make it so high on this percentage list.

3. California

  • Student-Athletes: 3.06%

The impressive part of California being No. 3 on this list is the size of its enrollment. Over 42,000 students are enrolled at Cal, which means the number of student-athletes involved in sports with the Golden Bears is rather impressive.

It doesn’t look like enrollment is going to drop off massively either, so expect California to remain high on the percentage list for a number of years to come.

2. Iowa

  • Student-Athletes: 3.15%

Iowa reports more than 30,000 students enrolled in the school, which is rather impressive considering all the area schools. In the same state alone, Iowa State fights for student enrollment, and nearby schools like Kansas, Kansas State, and Nebraska fight with the Hawkeyes for Midwest region students.

  1. Michigan
  • Student-Athletes: 26%

Recent information available shows that over 40,000 students are enrolled at Michigan and when it comes to success and tradition in athletics, who can blame them? The football program is one of the most successful in the history of the sport with 11 claimed National Championships and 42 conference titles in the school’s history. Even though it might get cold in Ann Arbor, Michigan is always an enticing spot.

To read the full story about the 2021 Alternative College Ranking Index and the percentage of student-athletes on campus from, click here