Is it your goal to compete on a college track and field team?
With more than 600,000 men’s track and field high school athletes, it can be difficult for men’s track and field recruits to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by college coaches. Only 4.8 percent of those athletes will go on to compete on an NCAA college track and field team, and a mere 1.9 percent will compete for a Division 1 school. Track and field recruiting also occurs on an international level—about 9 percent of all international student-athletes at the NCAA D1 level compete at a men's track and field college, making up about 0.5 percent of D1 rosters. Needless to say, getting recruited to compete in college is extremely competitive. Men’s track and field athletes who want to make it to the next level must go through the college track and field recruiting process.
To get recruited for a men’s track and field program and land a scholarship, student-athletes not only have to perform at a high level both athletically and academically but also understand how the track and field recruiting process works. From discovering which colleges have the best track and field programs, to reaching out to coaches, this is a multi-year journey with many milestones along the way.
While the college track and field recruiting process can be challenging, we’ve created this men’s track and field recruiting guide, which outlines the steps athletes and their families need to take to get recruited for college track and field programs. Use this sport-specific information alongside our college recruiting guide, which outlines the recruiting process from start to Signing Day.
Review the college men’s track and field NCAA recruiting rules and calendar
Do you know when men’s track and field athletes should expect contact from college coaches? The NCAA created its track and field recruiting rules and calendar to show when and how college coaches can reach out to college athletes. At the Division 1 and Division 2 levels, most communication is allowed starting June 15 after an athlete’s sophomore year in high school.
These rules are established to protect student-athletes from receiving overwhelming amounts of communication from college coaches, while guidelines are also in place that allow recruits to contact coaches themselves and initiate their recruitment. We explain the men’s track and field rules and calendar to help guide you through the college track and field recruiting process.
On the other hand, college coaches at the NCAA Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA levels are generally left to create their own recruiting rules and schedules and do not have strict limits on when coaches can contact recruits.
Learn how college men’s track and field scholarship standards work
There are more than 1,000 colleges that offer men’s track scholarships. Track scholarships are available for collegiate track and field athletes at the NCAA Division 1 and 2 levels, as well as at NAIA, NJCAA and CCCAA colleges. Men’s track and field is an equivalency sport, which means coaches can divide scholarships up to give more athletes scholarship money as partial scholarships. That means that most track and field scholarships are not full rides. In this section, we explain more about scholarship opportunities, how they are divided up and how Division 3 men’s track and field athletes can find scholarship dollars.
How to get recruited by college men’s track and field coaches
There are many opportunities to compete in men’s track and field, with thousands of colleges offering track and field programs. In some ways, the track and field recruiting process is easier because the events are all time, distance or height-based, making it easier to understand what it takes at the college level. Additionally, each event is recruited and scouted differently: recruiting a high jumper is different than recruiting a distance runner.
The hard part is that most recruits aren’t going to be hitting the marks of current college athletes, and coaches need to project how a recruit might do once they get to the college level. Likewise, it’s not always enough for a recruit to be the best on their high school team or in their area—remember, men’s track and field recruiting happens on an international level. Current high-school athletes who want to compete at the college level should start comparing their athletic stats—like times or distances—against national or conference results for their target schools. If your times or marks don’t measure up, cast a wider net by exploring different division levels.
Each track and field program has different needs and coaching philosophies when it comes to offering roster spots or awarding scholarship money. While it is important for an athlete to make sure they qualify athletically for the college level, they also need to know what schools are needing their events. In this section, we lay out what staying proactive in the recruiting process looks like, including how to target the right schools, contact men’s track and field coaches, develop relationships with programs that would be a good fit and much more.
Attend men’s track and field camps
Track and field camps provide a great opportunity to compete against elite runners, jumpers, hurdlers and throwers and see how you stack up against athletes outside of your high school and local competition. Track and field camps also give recruits a chance to improve their skills and receive training—even from college coaches and elite coaching staff—along with the opportunity to maximize their exposure to many programs.
College track and field camps help athletes improve their PRs and stay at their best during the off-season, but more importantly, they provide an opportunity for a potential recruit to check out a college campus, explore the athletic facilities and meet with a school’s coaching staff.
If you’re interested in a particular school, attending a track and field camp can help you continue to build quality relationship with a college coach that you’ve been in contact with. In this guide, we’ll break down the most common types of track and field camps, where to find them and how they can help you secure a spot on a track and field team.
Find Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA and NJCAA men’s track and field colleges
With nearly 1,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. that offer men’s track and field as a varsity sport, it can be overwhelming to start the college search process, let alone the college recruiting process. The challenge for student-athletes is finding the one track and field college that’s the best fit for them – where they will flourish athletically and academically. To help narrow down your options, determine the types of schools to target, based on athletics, academics and overall preferences.
The best men’s college track and field recruiting websites and rankings
While this men’s track and field recruiting guide is one of the most comprehensive resources for student-athletes looking to learn more about the college track and field recruiting process, there are also several websites that offer useful information on men’s track and field recruiting standards and rankings. For more information about state and national rankings of high school athletes, college recruiting news, college track and field rankings and meet information, websites such as USA Track & Field, Track & Field News, Milesplit, FloTrack, Direct Athletics and Athletic.net offer additional information that can help families work through their track and field recruiting questions. Or check out our college track and field rankings of top programs to find the best college fit for you at every division level.