Varsity Sports at Columbia

October 11, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Varsity Sports at Columbia

What are the Varsity Sports at Columbia University? The year 1754 marked the establishment of Columbia University, which is today home to 31 co-ed, men’s, and women’s athletic teams. Barnard College, with which we are connected, works together with us to organize our women’s teams. King’s College was the initial name of the university when it was founded in 1754 and received its license from King George II of Great Britain. After the conclusion of the American Revolution in 1784, it was renamed Columbia College. In 1896, when the school relocated to its current location in Upper Manhattan, it changed its name to Columbia University.

The athletics department that handles Varsity Sports at Columbia is recognized as one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, and it gives its top-tier student-athletes the opportunity to compete for and win Ivy League crowns and NCAA championships. Columbia Athletics is the only NCAA Division I sports program in Manhattan and has the most varsity sports in New York City, with 31. Columbia Athletics is also the largest NCAA Division I athletics program in New York City. Its one-of-a-kind Core Curriculum encourages students to engage in independent thought, fosters connections between former and current students, and gets undergraduates ready for any professional path.

Two students playing football. To maximize the opportunities for Columbia’s student-athletes to reach their highest levels of achievement, both during their time at Columbia and for the rest of their lives, Columbia is committed to providing a one-of-a-kind student-athlete experience, which, when combined with the most supportive athletics department in the Ivy League, leads to the maximization of those opportunities.

The student-athletes at Columbia are the school’s most valuable resource. The dedication of Columbia University to the success and overall well-being of its more than 700 student-athletes extends well beyond the confines of the athletic field. Columbia Athletics will provide coaching, mentorship, feedback, and support across all disciplinary areas using a comprehensive 360 approach. These resources will be accessible to all student-athletes, but a particular emphasis will be placed on those who require further assistance.

Student-athletes at Columbia will have access to the resources and skills they need to be successful in all aspects of their lives, including training in leadership and career development, academic support, nutritional counseling, and sports psychology. The university will provide this support. Columbia is aware that its student-athletes have the ability to transform the sports programs at the university, but that once they graduate, these same individuals have the ability to change the world. The commitment of Columbia to assisting students in achieving success in varsity sports at Columbia and beyond.

What are the different Varsity Sports at Columbia?

What are the different Varsity Sports at Columbia? There is a long history of sports success at Columbia, as well as a committed community of hard-working student-athletes and a fan base that never misses an opportunity to express their Lion love for the Columbia Blue.

The Columbia University baseball team was established in 1867, making it the school’s first intercollegiate sport. After that, in 1870, men’s association football (also known as soccer) was played, and in 1873, men’s crew competed. The Columbia College Boat Club was the first foreign crew to win a race at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1878, which is considered to be Columbia’s finest athletic triumph. Men’s Crew was one of Columbia’s best early sports.

Rutgers University defeated Columbia University by a score of 6 to 3 in the third-ever men’s intercollegiate soccer match, which was played between the two schools. Soon after Harvard and Yale played their first football game in 1875, Columbia University joined the American football movement. The following year, in 1876, Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton University created the Intercollegiate Football Association.

The school took on the lion as its emblem in 1910 in order to pay homage to its illustrious history as a royal establishment. In addition, the wrestling program for the Lions is the oldest in the country. In 1934, the Columbia football team won the Rose Bowl by defeating Stanford University 7–0 to claim the championship.

In addition, Columbia was the site of the very first sporting event to be broadcast on television. On May 17, 1939, the fledgling NBC network filmed a baseball doubleheader between the Columbia University Light Blue and the Princeton University Tigers at Columbia’s Baker Field, which is located at the northernmost point in Manhattan. The following are the different Varsity Sports at Columbia and each has teams to represent them:

Men’s Varsity Sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross-Country
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Rowing: Heavyweight
  • Rowing: Lightweight
  • Soccer
  • Squash
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Wrestling

Women’s Varsity Sports

  •  Archery
  • Basketball
  • Cross-Country
  • Fencing
  • Field HockeyGolf
  • Lacrosse
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Swimming & Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball

Popular Varsity Sports at Columbia

What are the current popular varsity sports at Columbia? Columbia University, which was one of the founding members of the Ivy League, currently has 31 varsity teams competing in NCAA Division I. It is the place where a number of athletes who have gone on to win Olympic medals got their start, and it is also the place where the Columbia Lions have won 15 Ivy League Championships since 2007. An extraordinary program and culture, the different Varsity Sports at Columbia are founded on a foundation of tireless effort, unwavering commitment to the team, and an insatiable hunger for victory. The following list is some of Columbia University’s most popular varsity sports.


In 1978, Barnard College made the decision to add women’s archery to its list of varsity sports. In 1983, when Columbia College began admitting female students, the archery program was integrated into the Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium. Archers participate in two different types of divisions: the Olympic recurve and the compound.

Up until the year 2003, the squad was made up mostly of walk-ons who had limited prior experience. As of the year 2020, the majority of archers are recruited in a manner comparable to that of other varsity sports. In addition, there is an archery club at Columbia that welcomes both male and female students who are interested in participating in and studying the sport.

Unidentified person playing archery.

2005 (recurve), 2008 (recurve), 2011 (recurve), 2013 (recurve), 2015 (recurve and compound), 2017 (recurve and compound), and 2018 (recurve and compound) were the years that Columbia won the outdoor national championships for recurve (compound). In the 2020 season, which was cut short due to a pandemic, five members of the Lions archery team were selected to the Collegiate Archery All-American squad.


One of the first institutions to begin playing basketball was Columbia University. The Lions’ rivalry with the Yale Bulldogs is the longest continuous rivalry in NCAA college basketball (tied with the Yale-Princeton rivalry): the two teams have played each other for 108 seasons in a row, beginning with the 1901–1902 season. The Yale-Princeton rivalry is also the longest continuous rivalry in NCAA college basketball.

The Premo-Porretta Power Poll and the Helms Athletic Foundation both retrospectively recognized the Lions as the national champions of 1904 and 1905 prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament. The Helms Athletic Foundation also acknowledged the Lions as the national champions of 1904, 1905, and 1910. The men’s basketball team at Columbia is comprised of 16 players and is coached by a head coach, as well as three assistant coaches. One indicator of how well teammates do in the classroom is the rate at which the team’s academic progress is being made.

Two of the Lions’ games were competitive enough to go to the “March Madness” tournament in the years just before the Ivy League formally formed a sports conference. In 1948, they were one of eight teams that participated in the tournament but were eliminated by Kentucky in the East regional semifinals. Kentucky went on to win the tournament.

A ball thrown on a basketball ring.

The 1951 squad finished the regular season with a perfect record, earning them a berth in the final round along with 15 other teams. The Lions lost 79–71 to eventual semi-finalist Illinois for a final record of 21–1 (the best record in the nation that year with a win-loss percentage of.956).

Even though they were never able to win the Ivy League championship or qualify for postseason play, the Lions fielded a formidable team during the late 1970s. The Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award is presented to the basketball player who is considered to be the finest player under 6 feet (180 cm) in height. The small point guard Alton Byrd earned the award in 1979.

In addition, the women’s basketball team (together with the other women’s teams) was known as the Barnard Bears until the 1980s. They played under the auspices of Columbia University’s connected undergraduate women’s college, Barnard College. This tradition continued until the 1980s. The Columbia-Barnard Athletic Consortium was established in 1983, the same year that Columbia College began admitting female students. Since then, all Barnard athletes have been invited to participate on Columbia teams.

The women’s basketball team entered the Ivy League in the 1986–1987 season. For many years, they were a regular cellar dweller, hitting their lowest point in the 1994–1995 season, when they went 0–26 in games played. In its first 23 seasons, it never had a season in which it finished higher than fourth place in the league standings. However, in the 2009–2010 season, they had their first winning season, finishing third in the Ivy League with a record of 18–10 overall and posting a 9–5 record in the conference.


The Ivy League is a competition that is a component of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, and the Lions are members of that league. One head coach and nine assistant coaches are responsible for keeping the University of Columbia’s men’s football squad of 110 players in condition. The academic advancement rate of the team is a measurement that indicates how well they do in the classroom.

The football game that Columbia played against Princeton in 1870 was the first game ever played between two schools that would go on to become members of the Ivy League. The game that Columbia played against Rutgers in the same year was the fourth intercollegiate football game ever played. Columbia was one of the first schools to start playing the game.

A placed near a grass on a football field.

In the long and illustrious history of Ivy League football, Norries Wilson holds the distinction of being the first African-American head coach ever. Between the years 2005 and 2011, he was the head coach of the Lions. Al Bagnoli, a former head coach for the Penn Quakers football team, was hired to be Columbia’s head coach on February 23, 2015.

The Empire Cup is a competition between Columbia and Cornell to determine which Ivy League school is the best in New York State. The finale of each of their seasons will feature a matchup between them beginning in 2018.


The year 1873 marks the beginning of Columbia University’s participation in its inaugural intercollegiate regatta, which took place in Springfield, Massachusetts, and included a six-oared shell. The following year, Columbia University emerged victorious at Saratoga to claim the intercollegiate championship. The 52 members of Columbia University’s rowing team are trained and led by the head coach, two assistant coaches, and one graduate assistant coach.

At the Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championships in 2016, the men’s varsity lightweight eight rowing team took first place, winning gold medals. Columbia was able to take home the IRA Lightweight Team Trophy thanks to the accomplishments of the men’s varsity lightweight 4+ team, which took silver medals. At the Henley Royal Regatta, the varsity lightweight eight went on to compete in the Temple Challenge Cup and advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition.

In 2018, the men’s 1st and 2nd varsity lightweight eights earned gold medals at the Eastern Sprints. The lightweight eights competed in the men’s division. Additionally, for the first time in the history of the program, the lightweights were awarded the Jope Cup for the best team performance.


Wrestling has a long history at Columbia, dating all the way back to 1903. Carl Fronhofer has been the head coach of the Lion Wrestling team since 2011, and the squad is currently participating in the EIWA Conference. There have been a total of 19 EIWA Conference Champions and 5 NCAA All-Americans, with the most recent being Matt Palmer, who finished in eighth place in 2005 and 2007 in the NCAA Wrestling Championships, and Steve Santos, who finished in third place in 2013.

The wrestling facility for the Columbia Lions, often known as the Blue Gym or University Gym, can be found inside the Dodge Physical Fitness Center on the Columbia University campus.

Does Columbia Provide Athletic Scholarships?

Does Columbia Provide Athletic Scholarships?  Any student who has begun attending classes for the ninth grade is considered to be a prospective student-athlete. Before you enter the ninth grade, you are also considered a prospective student-athlete at Columbia if the university offers you (or any of your relatives or friends) any type of financial assistance or other privileges that the university does not offer to prospective students in general.

Three students talking while lounging in the grass.

If you play men’s basketball, you are considered a prospective student-athlete once you have begun classes for the seventh grade. This applies only to those who have already started school.

If a coach or other representative of an athletics interest contacts you or your family with the intention of securing your enrollment and participation in intercollegiate athletics, then that coach or representative is considered to have “recruited” you as a prospective student-athlete at that particular college. The following are examples of actions taken by coaches or representatives that result in recruited status:

  • Paying part or all of your expenditures while you are on campus for a visit (this type of visit is referred described as an “official visit”);
  • Arranging a face-to-face meeting with you and/or your parent(s) or legal guardian that takes place away from the campus; or
  • Engaging in repeated efforts to recruit you, your family members, or your legal guardian via telephone, either by making the initial call or arranging for one to be made.

However, the Columbia University office determines eligibility for financial help based entirely on demonstrated financial need. Students attending Columbia College and the undergraduate section of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are not eligible for any institutional scholarships that are based on academic achievement, athletic ability, or talents of any kind. Students are encouraged to look for other scholarship options on their own, but they are not required to do so.

The NCAA Eligibility Center, which was formerly known as the NCAA Clearinghouse, is the organization that must provide certification to aspiring student-athletes before they are allowed to compete in intercollegiate athletics for NCAA Division I or II schools. This organization verifies that prospective student-athletes meet the academic and amateur requirements in order to participate in collegiate athletics for varsity sports at Columbia.

Prior to making an official visit to any Division, I school, prospective student-athletes for varsity sports at Columbia are required to first complete the registration process with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Transfer student-athletes who plan to enroll in a Division I school for the very first time are required to not only register with the NCAA Eligibility Center but also have their amateur status recognized by the organization.

Want to learn more about getting into Varsity Sports at Columbia University? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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