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College Rowing

College Rowing Opportunities​

As a ETRO rower, you have an incredible opportunity to row as an athlete in college. The sport of rowing is immersed in a college going culture, which is one of the primary advantages of starting during the high school years.  For some, rowing may be the extra advantage you need for admittance into the school of your choice. For others, athletic scholarships may be offered due to rowing. Many of our alumni have been able to continue their education and row collegiately at schools such as; TennesseeAlabamaClemsonLouisvilleStetsonWest VirginiaSaint Joseph's, and US Naval Academy to name a few.

  • ​17.88% of male rowers are offered rowing scholarships
  • 55.50% of female rowers are offered rowing scholarships

100% of ETRO graduates have gone on to attend a 4-year college, with many on rowing scholarships.

Here are some recommended steps to ensure you are noticed and recruited by college coaches:

  • Register with college recruiting sites. This helps increase your visibility with college coaches.
  • The NCAA Eligibility Center – all potential college athletes must register here. You will receive an NCAA Clearinghouse ID number, which all college coaches ask for during the recruiting process
  • Be Recruited – this is a great site that many college coaches visit. Here you can post academic and athletic stats, and  photos
  • Communicate with college coaches: College coaches can officially begin contacting you at the end of your junior year. Coaches want to see that you are eager to row in college, and serious about meeting your goals. Keep track of all the emails you receive and respond via email in a timely manner. If you do not hear from a particular coach, you can take the first step and contact him or her – introduce yourself, the team, your rowing record, your academic record, and any other extracurricular activities. Many coaches will ask for unofficial high school transcripts and ACT scores at this time, so have those materials ready to fax. Keep a running list of the coaches you are in contact with and make sure to keep the lines of communication open; for example, let coaches know when your erg scores improve, or when the team wins races.
  • Schedule “officials” – Under NCAA guidelines you are allowed five official visits to schools. These visits typically take place during the fall of your Senior year. The college coaches will arrange to fly you to the school, and they will make arrangements for accommodations and in general supervise the visit. Go on all five visits, or as many as possible, as this is an excellent way to get acquainted with different schools and rowing programs.
  • Communicate with CRF Coaches – For each of the online registration sites, you will include your Varsity Coach’s name, email address and phone number. It is important to tell your coach that you are registered online. As college coaches begin to email and call you, keep your ETRO coach apprised. ETRO coaches can be invaluable assets in the recruiting processes, particularly in letting college coaches know about your abilities and potential.

The ETRO coaching staff and Booster committee are here to help ETRO rowers with the recruiting process, so please reach out to us with any questions you might have. Also please keep us informed about your college rowing career by sending us updates and photos and joining ETRO's alumni page on Facebook. We are all part of the ETRO family and your success is important to us.

Check USRowing for information on college recruiting.  This includes a summary of recruiting rules, a guide for parents and a link to NCAA Eligibility site.

Parents have found the following book helpful when managing the college recruitment process:

  • College Rowing Scholarships.  This book was written by parents and rowers who have successfully managed the recruiting process and received rowing scholarships at NCAA Division I schools. Click here for a link to purchase this book.

Scholastic Honor Roll

USRowing sponsors a national honor roll for high school seniors.  Application information can be found on their website.

Are You Interested in Being Recruited?

  • The sport of rowing is immersed in a college going culture. Many juniors join rowing wanting to earn a scholarship rowing in college. This is due to a tremendous amount of college scholarship opportunities for those who are willing to work for them. Many of our alumni have developed their passion for rowing and made the commitment to put in the time and work needed to make rowing a major factor in choosing a college and signing to continue rowing at the nation’s top Division I, II and III collegiate programs to continue their education.
  • However, college sports come in a wide variety, including bowling, golf, wrestling, tennis, swimming and even Frisbee. And colleges offer the opportunity for every student to take part in sports — not just the elite student-athletes you see on TV.
    • Here are the main things you need to know about college sports:
    • Through various sports associations, many colleges offer students the chance to play competitive sports at the varsity level.
    • Some varsity athletes are eligible for sports scholarships through their colleges.
      Varsity athletes must meet academic requirements to win and keep sports scholarships.
    • Every student has an opportunity to play sports — thanks to clubs and intramural leagues.
    • All college athletes need strong time-management skills to balance classes and homework with practices and games.
    • What does “varsity” mean? Generally, college varsity sports teams:
    • Represent their college.
    • Play against teams from other colleges.
    • Receive at least some funding from their college’s athletic department.
  • Several associations oversee varsity-level competition in various sports for men and women at different colleges. These include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), among others.
  • The NCAA is the largest and most known of the college sports associations. When you watch college sports on TV, you’re usually watching NCAA athletes. The NCAA oversees three levels of play:
    • Division I the biggest and most competitive NCAA division. Colleges that compete in Division I must offer scholarships — many of them full — to their student-athletes.
    • Division II athletic programs are smaller and less competitive than those in Division I. Most student-athletes don’t get full-ride scholarships, but many do get some financial aid for playing.
    • Division III programs are the least competitive. Division III colleges do not offer sports-related financial aid. Still, these schools recruit athletes, and being one can help you get into a college that wants you in its program.
  • Students who can’t make the varsity team or who don’t want the intensity of varsity-level sports can join clubs and intramural leagues. Millions of college students take part in these teams each year to compete, have fun and stay fit.
  • Club Sports
  • Club teams compete against clubs from other colleges, and they are run by students. Students take charge of everything from getting uniforms to hiring officials to making travel arrangements. Competition and time commitments can be intense for club sports — teams may be involved in a regional conference and play for a national championship.
  • Intramural Sports
  • Intramural leagues are set up by the college to give all students a chance to participate. Teams from the same college play against each other.
  • Students can often participate in traditional sports, such as basketball, soccer and softball, and can sometimes compete in other activities, such as dodgeball, inner-tube water polo or video games. Some colleges offer these types of sports at different levels, so students can match their skills and interest level by choosing a more- or less-competitive team.


  • Highly competitive rowing schools actively recruit good high school rowers.  At these schools, the coaches have a tangible impact on the admissions process, and there are even scholarships available for especially promising young athletes.  At Division II and III schools, admissions committees will often look to support Olympic sports like rowing.  If you would like to row in college, whether Division I, II or III, follow the same steps listed below.  In terms of the amount of pull the college coaches have, a good rule of thumb is that the more competitive the team, the more pull the coaches are likely to have.  But in today’s highly competitive college admissions process, all help is welcome.
  • There is an added point. Rowing is an official NCAA sport for women, meaning that recruiting and participation is governed by the rules of the NCAA. It also means that there are generally more rowing and scholarship opportunities at Division I schools.  For men, while there are quite a few colleges that have Varsity Men’s rowing programs that are supported by the school, many of the competitive rowing teams are Club sports – “unofficial teams” that have limited to no support from the school. Club teams generally have little influence in the admissions office.  Don’t let that scare you away from some schools, however if you want to row. Many men’s college club teams  row competitively in the same regattas as the Varsity programs.
  • So, how do you go about getting recruited by college crew teams?  First and foremost, do well in school! Continue to build your GPA.  You can win medals in competitive regattas and improve your Ergometer scores, but keep hitting the books! For some, rowing can be a tie-breaker, but will not overcome a mediocre GPA or SAT scores.  Beyond that, what are the mechanics of recruiting?
  • First, understand that if you want to be recruited by college crew teams, your admissions schedule is moved up.  If you are fortunate enough to be recruited by a Division I school, they will expect you to select your school by early fall of your senior year.  Most of the action takes place during your junior year.  Remember, the schools prefer to see you, the athlete (and not your parents), as the main point of contact.  So, clean up your e-mail and keep on top of your in-box, and read your snail mail.
  • Get a “serious” email address, for example, firstinitial.lastname@.
  • Start a Rowing Resume
  • Create your profile on USRowing’s Row On Recruiting database.
  • (Winters) Participate in indoor rowing competitions each winter, e.g. TN Indoor Rowing Championships. These sorts of competitions are amongst the few places where coaches can see what YOU can do, and if you do them each year, how you have improved over time.
  • (Summers) Sign up for a summer rowing program, such as that offered by Eat Tennessee Rowing. Not only do you continue to hone your rowing skill and strength, ETRowing travels to large and small regattas over the summer, including those that attract attention of college coaches across the county. Keep in mind, they are not allowed to contact you until after July 1 before your senior year.  But they can watch you!
  • Summer Before Your Junior Year
  • Begin to identify schools you might be interested in.  Cast your net widely at this point.
  • Sign up for the East Tennessee Rowing summer high performance team or other summer rowing camp.
  • Think about scheduling your initial SAT testing for some time in the November-February time frame of your junior year.  If you are considering any SAT prep, think about this time line as you plan your upcoming year.
  • Visit some college campuses to see what kind of school interests you. Something to think about – would you like that school even if you did not row there?
  • Fall and Winter of Your Junior Year
  • From September 1 of your Junior year, college coaches generally are permitted to send you letters and other materials, and even respond to e-mails you send, but are not permitted to call you.  You may call them, but they may not call you.
  • You should go onto the rowing recruiting sections of the web sites for colleges you are interested in and fill out the rowing recruiting forms.  Keep a list of these colleges, and the e-mail addresses of their coaches (often the freshman coach serves as the main point of contact for high school athletes).  Continue to cast your net widely at this point, but try to be realistic.  If you are familiar with Excel, it is a good place to keep your list, since you can sort and filter the list as you build columns.
  • Go onto the main college admissions web sites of the schools you are interested in and sign up to express an interest in admission and begin receiving information from the school.  Make a note on the college list from above as to whether you’ve contacted the admissions office.  If you are interested in a school, be sure you contact BOTH the admissions office and the coach.
  • Sign up for Indoor Rowing competitions, as mentioned above.
  • Keep your USRowing Row On profile updated
  • Add your profile to other recruiting databases like beRecruited.com
  • During the year, update the coaches by e-mail with new Erg scores, rowing achievements, new GPAs, PSAT and SAT scores, etc.  Keep track on your list of what you send to whom, so you don’t leave any schools out, or send the same thing to the same coach twice.
  • Take the SAT’s, and keep improving your GPA.
  • Ask your current coach if you might qualify for any regional or national rowing development camps, and apply.
  • Spring of Your Junior Year
  • Try to narrow down the list of schools you are most interested in.
  • Visit some of the schools you are interested in.  Make sure you register with the admissions office and take the official tour when you are there.  Try to arrange a meeting with the rowing coach and get a tour of the boathouse.
  • Keep updating the coaches by e-mail with new Erg scores, rowing achievements, new GPAs, and SAT scores, etc.
  • You may ask your current coach to e-mail a note to a few of the coaches at the schools you are most interested in.  Respect your current coach’s time, and only ask him or her to send notes to the few schools you are most interested in.  Be sure to provide him or her with the contact information of the coaches you want him or her to write to.
  • Summer Before Your Senior Year
  • Recruiting begins in earnest on July 1 before your senior year.  At this point, college coaches are generally permitted to contact you up to once per week.  (Rules vary somewhat between Division I, II and III schools.)
  • Sign up for the college fairs at the bigger summer regattas if you attend – Independence Day Regatta, USRowing Club Nationals (these are generally open only to rising college seniors).
  • Narrow your list of schools.
  • Fall of Your Senior Year
  • Let the college coaches on your short list of schools know they are on your short list.  Ask them what your chances of admission are.  You are often asked to submit academic materials (transcripts, test scores, academic resume) for a “pre-read”.  This is the college coaches chance to show your school credentials to the admissions office to see your academic stats are within range.
  • If invited, make “official visits” to your top schools.  For Division I, you are not permitted more than 5 such visits, but you may only wish to make 2 or 3. Only go on official visits where you are seriously considering the school. They take up valuable time of you, your parents and the coaches.  On “Official Visits”, your expenses are typically covered by the crew team. You spend all day (and sometimes overnight) with the team, get to know your potential teammates, meet personally with the coaches.  While it is their chance to size you up, it is also your chance to see if the team is a good fit for you – not just in terms of rowing, but also attitude and spirit.
  • Get a feel from the coach where you stand in terms of their desire to support you for a spot on the team.
  • Don’t let recruiting coaches pressure you until you have had a chance to consider your options.  But do start thinking about the schools in terms of your first, second and third choices.
  • Narrow your list down further to early action and early decision schools, then apply early to that school (or those schools).  Coaches have the most influence early in the process.
  • Consider another crack at the SAT’s.
  • Keep hitting the books .
  • Don’t stop the application process after you submit any early applications.  While you can keep your fingers crossed for a “thick envelope” in response to your early application, you should be prepared to receive a “thin envelope” even if you were given to believe that your chances for admission were good.  So continue the application process and continue to talk to coaches at other schools on your list as you wait for responses to any early applications.
  • Major Take-A-Ways
  • You are going to college to get a degree, not to become a professional rower – so choose a college first based on whether you like it and feel it is a good fit for you.
  • You are your best advocate. Don’t wait for them to come to you.  Let coaches know that you are interested and what you can bring to the team.
  • You will feel lots of pressure from all sides.  Remember to take a deep breath, keep calm.  You will get through this, and good things await you no matter where you end up.
  • For more information about the rowing recruiting process, check out the US Rowing article at: http://www.usrowing.org/DomesticRowing/YouthRowing/CollegeRecruitingInfo/CollegeRecruitingGuide.aspx.
  • While the process can be challenging and confusing to both athletes and parents alike. There are many factors to consider when choosing a college and a rowing program. Adding to the challenge of wading through this decision process is the maze of recruiting and eligibility regulations that apply to the process.
  • ETRowing realizes this and seeks to help our athletes find a way through the maze and to a college and program that is the right fit for the individual athlete. Among the resources available to help rowers work through the process are: