Finding the opportunity for a US college wrestling scholarship comes down to finding the right college program and division level for you. There are opportunities to wrestle at the NCAA DI, DII, DIII, NAIA and NJCAA levels with a total of 304 college wrestling programs.
If you think you are good enough to be a scholarship wrestler you need to be able to get quarterfinal, semi-final and championship results at the conference, regional and national championship. If you are good enough to wrestle DI but can win championships at the DII level your best opportunity for a scholarship will be at the DII level.
Most wrestling scholarships are partial scholarships, meaning you will have to pay for some portion of your education. Per team there are 9.9 scholarships at the DI level, 9 per team for DII programs, 8 for NAIA programs and up to 16 scholarships for NJCAA programs.
It’s all about the numbers, with over 30+ wrestlers on your average college team you could be one of the best in your conference and still not receive much or any scholarship money if your team is stacked.
You need to be willing to look at 25 or more different universities across several division levels to find the right fit. Just because you are a good wrestler at 141lbs doesn’t mean your dream school has a scholarship for you. Unless your talents match up with a wrestling programs needs you won’t always get the offer you think you should from each program.
Some wrestlers can get by at the high school and prep level on their natural ability and a little bit of hard work. To find success and ultimately scholarship money at the US college level working hard is a must. Coaches don’t have time and will take scholarships away from wrestlers that aren’t working hard and aren’t producing results. Being a scholarship wrestler can be the most demanding and rewarding period in your life.
Most college athletic scholarships are not full ride like football and basketball, these are classed as “head count sports”; most other sports are called “equivalency sports”, like college wrestling. Wrestling coaches get to offer more scholarships to more high school wrestlers albeit at a lower rate.
In some ways this is good news for prospective college wrestlers. In Division I, a coach can divide the 9.9 wrestling scholarships between a larger number of wrestlers; for example: 25 partial instead of 9 full ride wrestling scholarships. If you are good enough of course then a full ride scholarship is always a chance.
Prospective college wrestlers should not just concentrate on the top division I schools/colleges, most of these larger universities usually have several potential recruits on their books. The competition for a wrestling scholarship is cut-throat, unless you are a strong prospect you probably won’t receive a good scholarship offer. There is nothing wrong with smaller division I, division II or NAIA colleges. At the end of the day it’s all about your education, being awarded a wrestling scholarship is one thing, but your choice of school should be a good fit for you academically as well.