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The Top 25 College Sports Programs in America

Monday, February 29, 2016

 

Colleges with the Best Sports Programs

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Nick Selbe Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In 1852, a boating race between students from Harvard and Yale took place on Lake Winnipesaukee, representing the first-ever intercollegiate sporting event in the United States. Since then, the idea of college athletics has expanded into one of the country's most popular past times.

The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, the first college sports governing body, was formed in 1906. In 1910, it adopted its current name — the National Collegiate Athletics Association — and has regulated college athletics ever since. With so many years of competition in the books, it's time to see which colleges have made the biggest athletic impact.

Using data from the NCAA record books, StartClass has ranked the top 25 colleges with the most NCAA team national championships. For this list, we focused only on Division I schools that had won NCAA-designated titles. College football national championships at the Football Bowl Subdivision level — which are determined by the College Football Playoff system and, prior to that, by national polls — are not officially sanctioned by the NCAA, so to include them, we had to go outside of the NCAA boundaries.

Prior to 1936, there were many national polling systems in place to determine the college football national titles, resulting in several years with multiple champions. Beginning in 1936, the Associated Press Poll emerged as the definitive selector of the sport's national championship. In 1950, the Coaches' Poll — comprised of a select group of college football coaches — joined the AP Poll as official designators of the end-of-the-year national champions. From 1998 to 2013, the Bowl Championship Series selected the top two teams at season's end to play in a national championship game. The polls still released rankings at the end of the season and typically agreed with the outcome of the BCS title game, with the exception of the 2004 season.

In 2014, the sport adopted the College Football Playoff system to crown a national champion, and so far there have been no split national titles with the current system. For this list, we gave a school credit for a football national championship if it finished No. 1 in any of the two major polls since 1936, won a BCS national championship game from 1998 to 2013, or won the College Football Playoff in 2014 or 2015.

There is a noticeable gap between the top three schools on this list — all with 100 or more national championships — and the rest of the field. Each college has a sport leading the charge in national titles, and we'll highlight the teams with the most historic hardware as we make our way up the leaderboard.

Note: In the event of ties, the school with the most recent NCAA team national championships is listed higher.

#26. University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 24
Sport with most national titles: Football (7)
Most recent championship: Fencing, 2011

#25. Indiana University Hoosiers

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 24
Sport with most national titles: Men's Golf (12)
Most recent championship: Men's Soccer, 2012

#24. Princeton University

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 24
Sport with most national titles: Men's Soccer (8)
Most recent championship: Fencing, 2013

#23. University of Nebraska Cornhuskers

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 24
Sport with most national titles: Men's Gymnastics (8)
Most recent championship: Bowling, 2015

#22. University of Iowa Hawkeyes

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 25
Sport with most national titles: Wrestling (23)
Most recent championship: Wrestling, 2010

#21. University of Colorado Boulder

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 27
Sport with most national titles: Skiing (19)
Most recent championship: Skiing, 2015

#20. University of Oregon Ducks

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 27
Sport with most national titles: Men's Outdoor Track & Field (8)
Most recent championship: Men's Outdoor Track & Field, 2015

#19. University of Wisconsin Badgers

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 28
Sport with most national titles: Men's Boxing (8)*
Most recent championship: Women's Ice Hockey, 2011

*Note: The NCAA discontinued boxing as a sanctioned sport after 1960. The Badgers' next-winningest sport is men's ice hockey, with six national championships.

#18. Yale University Bulldogs

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 28
Sport with most national titles: Men's Golf (21)
Most recent championship: Men's Ice Hockey, 2013

#17. University of Maryland Terrapins

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 28
Sport with most national titles: Women's Lacrosse (12)
Most recent championship: Women's Lacrosse, 2015

#16. University of Georgia Bulldogs

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 29
Sport with most national titles: Women's Gymnastics (10)
Most recent championship: Women's Swimming & Diving, 2014

#15. University of Oklahoma Sooners

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 29
Sport with most national titles: Men's Gymnastics (9)
Most recent championship: Men's Gymnastics, 2015

#14. University of Denver Pioneers

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 30
Sport with most national titles: Skiing (22)
Most recent championship: Skiing, 2014

#13. University of Florida Gators

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 33
Sport with most national titles: Women's Tennis (6)
Most recent championship: Softball, 2015

#12. University of California-Berkeley Golden Bears

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 34
Sport with most national titles: Men's Water Polo (13)
Most recent championship: Women's Swimming & Diving, 2015

#11. Ohio State University Buckeyes

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 34
Sport with most national titles: Men's Swimming & Diving (11)
Most recent championship: Women's Rowing, 2015

#10. University of Michigan Wolverines

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 38
Sport with most national titles: Men's Swimming & Diving (12)
Most recent championship: Men's Gymnastics, 2014

#9. University of North Carolina Tar Heels

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 40
Sport with most national titles: Women's Soccer (21)
Most recent championship: Women's Soccer, 2012

#8. University of Arkansas Razorbacks

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 43
Sport with most national titles: Men's Indoor Track & Field (20)
Most recent championship: Women's Indoor Track & Field, 2015

#7. Louisiana State University Tigers

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 46
Sport with most national titles: Women's Outdoor Track & Field (14)
Most recent championship: Men's Golf, 2015

#6. The University of Texas Longhorns

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 47
Sport with most national titles: Men's Swimming & Diving (11)
Most recent championship: Men's Swimming & Diving, 2015

#5. Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 49
Sport with most national titles: Fencing (13)
Most recent championships: Fencing and Wrestling, 2014

#4. Oklahoma State University Cowboys

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 51
Sport with most national titles: Wrestling (34)
Most recent championships: Men's Cross Country, 2012

#3. University of Southern California Trojans

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 107
Sport with most national titles: Men's Outdoor Track & Field (26)
Most recent championships: Men's Tennis, 2014

#2. Stanford University Cardinal

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 108
Sport with most national titles: Men's Tennis and Women's Tennis (17 each)
Most recent championships: Women's Water Polo, 2015

#1. University of California-Los Angeles Bruins

 

Number of NCAA team national titles: 114
Sport with most national titles: Men's Volleyball (19 each)
Most recent championships: Men's Water Polo, 2015

Learn More About Colleges at StartClass

 

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