UNC-Chapel Hill has most student athletes in North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked No. 1 for student athletic participation in the state, according to a North Carolina Business Daily analysis of college sports participation.

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education collects athletics data annually from all institutions with intercollegiate athletics programs that receive funding through federal financial aid programs. Data for 2016 – the latest year available – includes more than 2,000 schools nationwide.

The number of University of North Carolina students taking part in athletic programs was 890 –  463 men and 427 women – representing the largest contingent of student athletes in North Carolina.

In all, there are 18,454 students – 11,352 men and 7,102 women – playing on athletic teams at 69 colleges and universities in the state.


Colleges with the most student athletes

RankSchoolDivisionTotal UndergraduatesMale Student AthletesFemale Student AthletesTotal Number of Student Athletes
1University of North Carolina

at Chapel Hill

NCAA Division I-FBS17,828463427890
2Duke UniversityNCAA Division I-FBS6,449394274668
3Belmont Abbey CollegeNCAA Division II without football1,403353211564
4Methodist UniversityNCAA Division III with football1,933380171551
5Wingate UniversityNCAA Division II with football2,044358192550
6North Carolina State

University at Raleigh

NCAA Division I-FBS20,818330184514
7Lenoir-Rhyne UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,448323167490
8Gardner-Webb UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS1,908318169487
9Appalachian State UniversityNCAA Division I-FBS15,450285193478
10Campbell UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS3,734295175470
11Mars Hill UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,258299132431
12East Carolina UniversityNCAA Division I-FBS19,698252178430
13University of North Carolina

at Charlotte

NCAA Division I-FBS20,257291135426
14Davidson CollegeNCAA Division I-FCS1,791253171424
15Queens University of


NCAA Division II without football1,294187217404
16Catawba CollegeNCAA Division II with football1,236268135403
17Guilford CollegeNCAA Division III with football1,455272125397
18Wake Forest UniversityNCAA Division I-FBS4,899251143394
19University of Mount OliveNCAA Division II without football1,446219174393
20North Carolina Wesleyan CollegeNCAA Division III with football1,783291101392
21Elon UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS5,854213172385
22University of North Carolina

at Pembroke

NCAA Division II with football4,478256125381
23Chowan UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,468260120380
24Greensboro CollegeNCAA Division III with football759251121372
25Brevard CollegeNCAA Division II with football690252114366
26Western Carolina UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS7,814212139351
27St Andrews UniversityNAIA Division II612161178339
28Pfeiffer UniversityNCAA Division II without football739200130330
29North Carolina A & T State UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS8,65722795322
30High Point UniversityNCAA Division I without football4,476177143320
31University of North Carolina WilmingtonNCAA Division I without football11,913143176319
32Barton CollegeNCAA Division II without football903157141298
33North Carolina Central UniversityNCAA Division I-FCS5,23823562297
34Louisburg CollegeNJCAA Division I67222273295
35Montreat CollegeNAIA Division II523166102268
36Winston-Salem State


NCAA Division II with football4,09617588263
37Lees-McRae CollegeNCAA Division II without football978139123262
38University of North Carolina at GreensboroNCAA Division I without football13,904122119241
39Johnson C Smith UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,28414092232
40University of North Carolina

at Asheville

NCAA Division I without football3,127105123228
41Saint Augustine's UniversityNCAA Division II with football91915655211
42Livingstone CollegeNCAA Division II with football1,18212668194
43William Peace UniversityNCAA Division III without football88010169170
44Shaw UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,6048877165
45Elizabeth City State UniversityNCAA Division II with football1,19010945154
46Fayetteville State UniversityNCAA Division II with football3,94310053153
47Wake Technical Community CollegeNJCAA Division I7,6218358141
48Warren Wilson CollegeUSCAA6435449103
49Salem CollegeNCAA Division III without football719

50Johnson & Wales University-CharlotteUSCAA2,063425092
51Cape Fear Community


NJCAA Division I3,756424890
52Catawba Valley Community CollegeNJCAA Division II1,716542983
53Lenoir Community CollegeNJCAA Division II857601979
54Pitt Community CollegeNJCAA Division II3,667472976
55Guilford Technical Community CollegeNJCAA Division II5,169502474
56Brunswick Community CollegeNJCAA Division II504452368
57Surry Community CollegeNJCAA Division II1,076382664
58John Wesley UniversityNCCAA Division I110253257
59Mid-Atlantic Christian UniversityUSCAA157331851
60Sandhills Community CollegeNJCAA Division III1,344311748
61Central Carolina Community CollegeNJCAA Division III1,806232346
62Fayetteville Technical Community CollegeNJCAA Division II4,131271744
63Southeastern Community CollegeNJCAA Division II493251439
64Rockingham Community CollegeNJCAA Division III60326935
65Piedmont International UniversityNCCAA Division II176121830
66Caldwell Community College and Technical InstituteNJCAA Division I1,35417926
67Davidson County Community CollegeNJCAA Division III1,36715924
68Vance-Granville Community CollegeNJCAA Division II892131124
69Johnston Community CollegeNJCAA Division II1,39615

Source: U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education

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Organizations in this Story

Appalachian State University Barton College Belmont Abbey College Campbell University Cape Fear Community College Catawba College Catawba Valley Community College Davidson College Duke University Fayetteville State University Gardner-Webb University Greensboro College High Point University John Wesley University Johnson C Smith University Lees-McRae College Lenoir Community College Lenoir-Rhyne University Livingstone College Mars Hill University North Carolina Central University Pitt Community College Queens University of Charlotte Rockingham Community College Salem College Sandhills Community College Shaw University University of Mount Olive University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill University of North Carolina at Greensboro University of North Carolina at Pembroke University of North Carolina Wilmington University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Vance-Granville Community College Wake Forest University Wake Technical Community College Warren Wilson College Western Carolina University William Peace University Winston-Salem State University

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