Men’s college rowing is a sport that is experiencing growth, especially at the club level. However, it is not an NCAA sanctioned sport, and college rowing teams compete and organize under different ruling bodies, with the majority of varsity programs being part of the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA), which organizes six different qualifying regattas throughout the year in advance of the IRA national championship regatta. There is also a portion of varsity programs that are not organized by the IRA and end their season with a regional championship, such as the National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC). Additionally, a large number of college rowing teams are club teams, most of which compete in the American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA). These teams range from recreational on the bottom end to competing against strong varsity programs at championship regattas, rostering future Olympic rowers and receiving invitations to the Henley Royal Regatta at the high end. College rowers competing on a varsity team do not have to pay for most expenses, but club rowers have to fund their team with fees. In this section, we break down how many men’s rowing teams there are.
There are currently around 84 varsity programs competing in college men’s rowing, with 50 competing in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA). Meanwhile, according to the cMax in-season rankings, there were 73 American College Rowing Association (ACRA) teams competing during the 2018–19 season. Rowing is an expensive sport and team budgets and roster numbers may go up and down from year to year, making it difficult to get a competitive boat on the water in certain years, which partially explains the fluctuating number of men’s college rowing teams from season to season.
There are currently 39 Division 1 colleges with rowing teams, the majority of which compete in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) and follow most NCAA recruiting rules. To see a list of Division 1 rowing colleges, check out the NCSA Power Rankings of the Best Men’s Rowing Colleges.
There are several different men’s college rowing rankings that readers can reference in order to see how rowing teams are performing. In American rowing, the most important measurement of a program is the success of their varsity eight boat.
To see a ranking of college rowing teams that takes into consideration athletic and academic fit, you can check out NCSA Power Rankings of the Best Men’s Rowing Colleges. To see how the top varsity teams in the country stack up, check in on the IRA/USRowing varsity eight coaches’ poll. To see a relative estimate of how fast college rowing teams are, including both varsity and club teams, visit the cMax rankings page. Here are segments from the final men’s college rowing rankings for 2019:
NCSA Power Rankings