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A walk-on, in American and Canadian college athletics, is an athlete who becomes part of a team without being recruited and awarded an athletic scholarship. A team's walk-on players are normally the weakest players and relegated to the scout team, and may not even be placed on the official depth chart or traveling team, while the scholarship players are the team's main players. However, a walk-on player occasionally becomes a noted member of the team.

General parameters


The reasons athletes choose to pursue the path of a walk-on include:

In collegiate sports

Many schools that do not provide athletic scholarships still recruit student athletes, and these students can get admitted to a school with academic records that are below average for that school. The Ivy League, for example, does not permit athletic scholarships, but each school has a limited number of athletes it can recruit for each sport. Additionally, all prospective athletes are required to meet a minimum score on what the league calls the Academic Index (AI), a metric based largely on high school grade-point averages and SAT or ACT scores. The goal of the AI is to ensure that students who receive athletic admissions slots fall within one standard deviation of the credentials of the student body as a whole.[6]

Division III athletes cannot receive athletic scholarships, but frequently get an easier ride through admissions. Even though these students do not receive athletic scholarships and are not required to play to remain in school, they are not walk-ons, because they were recruited. Instead of being awarded an athletic scholarship, they were granted an athletic admissions slot to a school to which they ordinarily would not have been likely to have gained admission.[7]


  1. ^ Brown, C.L. (June 7, 2011). "Scholarship shift for Louisville basketball makes 3 returners walkons". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Goodman, Jeff (July 2, 2013). "Grant Gibbs granted sixth year". Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  3. ^ O'Neil, Dana (December 11, 2014). "Meet Matt Stainbrook, Uber driver". Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Barnett, Zach. "What does it mean to be a preferred walk-on? Coaches explain". Football Scoop. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  5. ^ Infante, John. "The Meaning of a Preferred Walk-on". Athnet. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  6. ^ Pennington, Bill (December 24, 2011). "Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  7. ^ "List of NCAA Division 3 Schools". Athnet. Retrieved 20 October 2017.