Requirements to Row in College


Rowing is one of the oldest intercollegiate sports in the United States. College rowers are generally divided into two classes, junior and masters, and two divisions, lightweight and regular, and compete in boats manned by one, two, four or eight people. There are a number of NCAA regulations governing who can and cannot row in college.


  • While rowers in the regular division do not have a weight limits, men and women rowing in the lightweight division must meet strict pre-race weight limits. Men can weigh no more than 160 lbs, while each boat must also have an average weight of no more than 155 lbs per person. For junior men's lightweight crew, composed of freshman teams, no rower may weight more than 150 lbs. For women, a lightweight boat can have no rower weighing more than 130 lbs. The coxswain, who directs the boat, is not counted as a rower, but is generally quite small, so as not to weigh down the boat.


  • According to the NCAA, all rowers are required to be full-time students at the college for which they row. All athletes must maintain a GPA of 2.00 or higher and have received a total score of 820 on the SAT or 68 on the ACT. All rowers, both recruits and walk-ons, must have taken a set of core classes in high school and be cleared for play by the NCAA Clearinghouse, which will review high school transcripts before certifying a player as eligible.


  • All rowers are forbidden from using any drugs deemed performance-enhancing or dangerous by the NCAA. NCAA rules regarding the testing for drugs are identical to those of United States and International Olympic Committees. All athletes must be willing to submit to random drug testing. Those who refuse will face penalties identical to if they had received a positive test result.


  • All college rowers must maintain their amateur status. This means they cannot receive any direct and immediate material gain from rowing, although colleges are allowed to reimburse players for expenses related to training and equipment.


  • Although not a requirement of the NCAA, competitive rowers are generally obligated to engage in a grueling training regimen that requires a large commitment of both time and physical energy. Many teams will hold twice-daily workouts, often in the early hours of the morning and in the afternoon or evening, and set rules governing athletes' diet, physical training and behavior.

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  • Photo Credit rowing image by Goran Bogicevic from
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