The Future Olympians

Rio 2016 is in full swing, meaning it’s time to sit on our couches eating delicious snacks and watching other people burn thousands of cals. However, this time of year isn’t that special for some of us collegiettes, who are used to watching Olympic-like sporting events year-round. At these ten colleges, athletics hog the spotlight, where future professional athletes compete for some of the most sought-after titles in the country. State-of-the-art facilities, expert coaches and pure talent all contribute to these powerhouse athletic programs. If you’re a student at one of these sporty schools, tune into to this summer’s games—you may see one of your classmates bringing home the gold.

10. UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON (Madison, WI)


With more than 100 Olympians, 45 national championships and “a rich tradition of winning,” the Badgers are brimming with Big 10 talent. The school brings in the second largest amount of revenue through athletics of all the public schools in the country.

Badgers have no shortage of student spirit. “We've got the best all-day tailgates, brightest sea of red at Camp Randall and the craziest energy on game days at the Kohl Center,” says student Madison Eckle.

While the school’s varsity teams shine, a big element to Wisco’s athletic environment is that those who are not D1 athletes still have a lot of opportunities to involve themselves in school athletics, with multiple club and intramural teams. While the football team is one of the main highlights of the school’s athletic program, the basketball team also swells with Badger pride, appearing in two of the last three Final Four competitions. On, Wisconsin!

9. TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY (College Station, TX)


Twenty-seven national championships, 132 conference championships and the nation’s largest football student section—you could say Aggie athletics are kind of a huge deal. According to US News and World Report, about 25 percent of the school participates in intramural athletics—one of the nation’s most significant programs.

"Texas A&M's athletic program is made up of outstanding student athletes who strive to benefit themselves as well as the world around them,” says student Leana Lares.

Forty-six of the school’s former athletes are currently professional players, 31 of whom are in the NFL. Twenty-seven Aggies have qualified for Rio, while 23 competed in London in 2012. In 2015, the school led the country in total revenue from athletics with more than $192 million. Johnny Football isn’t the only reason to show off your Aggie pride (although he’s a pretty great one).

8. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN (Austin, TX)


UT Austin is home to more than just cowboy boots and great food trucks. With more than 500 conference championships, the Longhorn athletes have proved themselves to be powerful competitors within the Big 12. The school also has claimed more than 100 Olympic medals, growing their legacy this year with 24 longhorns in Rio.

These athletes Hook ‘Em big, bringing in the second largest annual revenue of any university in the nation, $183.5 million. Non-athletes still contribute to the university’s athletic culture, as they can purchase The Big Ticket, an all-access pass to every regular season home game.

And these fans are passionate about Longhorn success. “I think that UT stands out in its athletic rankings because we have a legacy of Olympians that have gone above and beyond,” says Kara Rollins, a recent graduate. “We have a motto at UT that states, "What starts here changes the world" and I think that the rigor and competitiveness that UT instills in its athletes and scholars allows them to truly change the world!" With a record and reputation like theirs, Rollins isn’t lying.

7. DUKE UNIVERSITY (Durham, NC)


With 127 ACC championships and 53 all-time Olympic contestants, Duke University doesn’t just make the top ten in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges list. Thirteen student-athletes were also professional draft picks for their respective sports in the 2014-2015 academic year.

While virtually all of their 26 athletic teams thrive, the highlight of being a Blue Devil is basketball season, as five of the school’s 16 national championships were locked down by the men’s basketball team. Golden State Warrior Seth Curry is just one of 18 Blue Devils currently in the NBA.

According to student Sarah Turner, “What makes Duke stand out so much athletically, is not simply the prestige some of our sports teams possess, but also the Blue Devil school spirit that runs deep within every Dukie, past, present or future.” With wild tailgates, jaw-dropping facilities and contagious school spirit, it’s hard not to fangirl over Duke athletics.

6. UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN (Ann Arbor, MI)


Three hundred and eighty-two Big Ten championships. Fifty-six team national championships. Three hundred and ten individual national titles. Twenty Rose Bowls. When you’re a Wolverine, victory is essentially implied.

U.S. News and World Report refers to the football program as “one of the most storied teams in college football.”

The university’s 150-year-old athletic program has attracted an incredibly dedicated following, leading the nation for average football game attendance in the “Big House”—the largest stadium in the western hemisphere—for 15 consecutive years as of 2013. “I think Michigan athletics’ ability to unite such a large and diverse campus speaks to their power,” says rising junior Lucy Aaron. “Any past present or aspiring Wolverine can tell you the Big House is the greatest place on this Earth.” No wonder these students Hail to Michigan.

5. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE (Knoxville, TN)


One thousand, three hundred ten All-Americans and 132 Olympians in orange and white uniforms show that UT is an athletic powerhouse. A force to be reckoned with in the competitive Southeastern Conference, the University of Tennessee has produced a plethora of great sports players, such as Peyton Manning and Reggie White.

One of many influential leaders in this university, recently deceased Olympian and women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, who led her team to eight championships, was recognized as such a staple to American athletics that President Obama gave a speech honoring her memory.

The amenities are very up-to-date, as the school has opened new facilities for five sports and renovated those of three others in the past eight years. The school has an especially stand-out track and field program, boasting eight Vols competing in the Rio this summer.

4. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY (Berkeley, CA)


In case you can’t tell from their high total count of 185 Olympic medals, Berkeley breeds some pretty fantastic athletes. The Golden Bears’s long list of notable alumni includes swimmer Matt Biondi, soccer player Alex Morgan and football players Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers.

But the alumni aren’t the only ones to fangirl over. “Not only does our athletic program produce some of the best athletes in the nation it also produces Olympians,” says recent graduate Monica Morales. “It's pretty crazy to be sitting in a classroom and next to you is five-time medalist Missy Franklin.”

Golden Bear pride infiltrates the campus, especially during Big Game Week. The six days leading up to the annual football game against rival Stanford are filled with a series of events and rallies to hype up the school to take down the trees (and we mean that literally—Berkeley actually puts on a Tree Chopping Rally Tuesday of Big Game Week).

The top-notch athletic program has earned the university 89 national championships as well as 283 individual/small group national champions. Don’t believe that these Bears can fight? Watch 49 of them prove you wrong in Rio.

3. UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA (Gainesville, FL)


Topping Ranker.com and Business Insider’s best college athletics’ lists, U of F’s varsity achievements are nothing short of astounding. Not only does the school’s impressive alumni list display multiple renowned names—such as Tim Tebow, Emmett Smith, Cam Newton and Aaron Hernandez—but 31 Gators will be appearing at this year’s Olympic games in Rio.

“Athletics are ingrained into the culture of our school,” says rising senior Hannah Colson. “Between basketball, gymnastics, baseball and so many more, there are countless reasons to take pride in being a Gator.”

Winning 14 national team titles—the highest in the nation—U of F has an indisputably stand out athletic program. In 2013, the athletic department’s revenue was $130.1 million. Winning is clearly one of the Gators’ favorite pastimes.

2. STANFORD UNIVERSITY (Stanford, CA)


Bringing home at least one national championship a year the past 40 years, Stanford—holding 132 cumulative national championships—is one of the strongest athletic competitors in the country. Stanford has also been awarded the Directors’ Cupgiven to the most successful intercollegiate athletic department in each NCAA division—22 out of the 23 years that the award has existed.

Nationally-ranked as the most Olympic college after Beijing, the school still maintains a powerful Olympic presence, boasting a total of 243 medals. Stanford leads the country in most woman’s NCAA championships and individual NCAA championships. With records like these, the million feet of indoor facilities and 94 acres of outdoor fields on which the Cardinals practice don’t come as a surprise. The school’s commitment to athletics shines through as about 12.5 percent   of the student body is involved in athletics, powered by a near $100 million in athletic support.

1. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (Los Angeles, CA)


#FightOn and join the dedicated Trojan fan base. With 127 national championships—the third most in the country—it’s easy to understand why you can’t be cured of Trojan fever. If that’s not enough to convince you, USC Olympians total to 420 with 288 medals, more Olympians and Olympic victories than any other U.S. university.

Even if the idea of playing catch gives you serious anxiety, USC athletics will make you feel like Sporty Spice. “Athletics at USC are so incredible because they bring the entire campus together,” says rising junior Sydney Adedemola. “I've never been a huge football fan, but watching one of the best teams in the country with 90,000 other people draped in cardinal and gold is an indescribable feeling.”

With winning being a pretty common theme at USC, the specifics of every team’s respective victories are too extensive to enumerate. Safe to say, the Trojans dominate.