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Best Bowling Colleges in the NCAA and NAIA

African american woman in yellow sweater and the words best bowling colleges in the ncaa and naia written in white letters

When you mention student-athletes, what comes to mind? Football, basketball, baseball, or even a la crosse players. You should now add bowling to the list. For kids and young adults who are interested in collegiate bowling, there is a place for them in higher education.

As a student bowler, you’ll want to set your sights on attending a top-notch bowling college. But here’s the thing: there’s a diverse list of colleges with different sanctioning bodies. So “best” can be a pretty subjective term, making your search for the ideal institution a bit challenging. And that’s where we come in.

In this article, we’ll share some of the best bowling colleges and rank them on their sanctioning body, athletic performance of the teams, admission rates, graduation rates, and costs of tuition and fees. Let’s get right into it!

The Best Bowling Colleges

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

You’re wondering what are the best bowling colleges in the United States? The best bowling colleges are those that have been making a splash in competitions and boast high rankings during competitive seasons. In this section, we’ll share a few NCAA best bowling colleges in the U.S.

Key Takeaways

  • Top NCAA Bowling Colleges: Vanderbilt University (Women’s Team – 2023 NCAA Champions), Arkansas State, North Carolina A&T State University, and McKendree University are highlighted for their exceptional women’s bowling teams and competitive success.
  • NAIA Bowling Standouts: Lawrence Tech Michigan (Men’s Team – NAIA National Champions) and Saint Xavier University are recognized for their achievements in men’s bowling at the NAIA level.
  • Academic Excellence and Rankings: Vanderbilt ranks 18th in National Universities with high academic standards (ACT: 34-35, SAT: 1490-1570, GPA: 3.9). Arkansas State and North Carolina A&T are also noted for their academic environments.
  • Scholarship Opportunities: The NCAA offers scholarships for women’s bowling, but opportunities for men are limited. Students should inquire with individual schools or conferences regarding scholarship availability.
  • NCAA Bowling Teams Overview: Only women’s bowling is sanctioned under the NCAA. There are 101 NCAA bowling teams in 2023, with Vanderbilt, SFA, and McKendree among the notable ones.

Vanderbilt University Women’s Bowling Team

When it comes to bowling colleges, the Vanderbilt University Commodores in Nashville, TN, top the list. After all, their Women’s bowling team reins as the 2023 NCAA National Bowling Champions. They beat out Arkansas State for the title, which was their third one.

The other two title wins were in 2018 and 2007. The team also won the Tolbert Cup! The Commodores had an overall record of 94-29 in the 2022 – 23 season. It goes without saying that the team is made up of the best athletes in collegiate bowling.

Aside from their bowling excellence, Vanderbilt has also been ranked in the top National Universities by U.S. News for many years. They were ranked 18th nationally with an enrollment of 7,151 students in 2022. Vanderbilt is also ranked #7 in Best Value Schools.

The average student who applies to this school has earned a 34-35 on the ACT, 1490-1570 on the SAT, and a 3.9 GPA. The school has a 7% acceptance rate.

2023 NCAA bowling championship: Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas State | FULL REPLAY

Arkansas State Women’s Bowling Team

Arkansas State is another college with great bowling program. The Women’s team came in 2nd place, right under Vanderbilt University, in the 2023 NCAA Championship. The team is composed of some of the best female bowlers at the collegiate level, and they show no signs of slowing down. If you’re a young lady or parent of a young girl who loves bowling, this college is one to seriously consider.

Arkansas State is a public college that was founded in 1909. It ranks #361 in National Universities and #198 in Top Public Schools per U.S. News. The college is located in Jonesboro, Arkansas, has more than 14,000 students, and offers over 150 degrees.

Ladyjack Classic day 2

North Carolina A&T State University Bowling Team

North Carolina A & T State University, an HBCU located in an urban setting in Greensboro, NC, is distinguished in its bowling program, especially in women’s bowling. In the 2022-2023 season, the women’s team achieved a remarkable record of 89-32 and an RPI of 0.622, leading their category.

Although they didn’t secure the top two spots in the NCAA Division I-FCS, their performance was strong enough to rank them potentially 6th nationwide. Additionally, they triumphed in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship, securing 1st place.

The university is not only known for its athletic prowess but also for its academic environment. Ranking 7th among HBCUs, North Carolina A&T hosts over 11,000 students. For prospective students considering this college, the acceptance rate is around 56%, suggesting a moderate chance of admission.

Chat with HBCU Champions Season 2, Episode 9 w. Coach Kim Kearney, NCAT Bowling May 4, 2023

McKendree Women’s Bowling Team

Located in Lebanon, Illinois, McKendree University has a 98% employment and graduation rate, a 14:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and is among the top 4 bowling teams for the 2022-2023 season. As a fierce competitor in the NCAA, McKendree is D2.

They secured the Intercollegiate Team Championships for their 22-23 season. This honor was previously won in 22016-2017.

2022 NCAA bowling championship: McKendree vs. SFA | FULL REPLAY

NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)

Lawrence Tech Michigan

You’ll find Lawrence Tech Michigan on many best bowling colleges lists because of their stellar track record and wins in the sport. Just this year, the team won first place in the NAIA Men’s Bowling National Championships. This is a huge feat!

Lawrence Tech Michigan also provides great academic opportunities for its students. Their engineering program is well-known, and they have lots of other STEM-related fields as well.

The school is also ranked #53 in Regional Universities in the Midwest on U.S. News and World Report. The acceptance rate here is about 82%, so you can apply with confidence if this college seems like a good fit for you.

Lawrence Tech Men's Bowling WHAC Tournament Highlights 2/27/21

Saint Xavier University

Saint Xavier University, the college’s Men’s bowling team finished at the top 10 at the Golden Eagle Invite and placed 4th at the NAIA Nationals. So, it’s safe to say that the team is strong! The women’s team is also fiercely competitive in the sport.

Located in Chicago, IL, Saint Xavier University is a private Catholic university. It’s ranked as one of the best colleges and universities in the Midwest. This college is also known for having strong programs in nursing and education.

Currently, around 2,900 students are enrolled here. About 84% of applicants get accepted into SXU – so your chances are good if you apply there. 

NAIA NATIONALS DAY ONE | Saint Xavier University |

Honorable Mentions

Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Michigan State (East Lansing)

University of Nebraska (Lincoln, New Nebraska)

Best bowling colleges in ncaa and naia studying

What College Has the Best Men’s Bowling Team?

Lawrence Tech Michigan is home to the best men’s bowling team in the nation.

In 2023, they won first place in the NAIA Men’s Bowling National Championship, making them the undisputed champions of college bowling in that arena.

With their impressive track record and wins, Lawrence Tech has earned a spot on many “best bowling colleges” lists.
Just know that many other colleges could be considered the best bowling colleges as well, and there’s no definitive answer.

It really depends on the individual college’s bowling program. And, of course, things change from year to year. 

What College Has the Best Girls Bowling Team?

To simplify things, let’s look at the NCAA championships, and the winner is Vanderbilt University. They won the NCAA bowling championship against Arkansas State in 2023, solidifying their place as one of the best bowling teams in the country.

They have also won several conference championships and garnered numerous awards for individual players, making them a top contender in collegiate bowling programs. If you’re looking for a school with an excellent women’s bowling team, Vanderbilt University is certainly worth considering!

Though Vanderbilt University has proven to be a powerhouse in collegiate bowling, there are many other teams that have achieved excellence and offer great opportunities for student bowlers.

Is College Bowling a Scholarship Sport?

Bowling is one of the most perplexing sports when it comes to classification – though many see it as a sport, some see it as a game rather than a sport.

College bowling is a scholarship sport in some colleges and universities, though not always. If you decide to pursue a collegiate bowling career, you should check with the individual school or conference’s governing body to find out if scholarships are available.

Additionally, some university athletic departments may offer additional funds for student-athletes who excel in their chosen sport.
One of the largest scholarship-granting organizations for collegiate bowling is the NCAA, but they only offer scholarships for women’s bowling teams.
Men have much fewer opportunities for scholarship funding, specifically for bowling. 

Either way, you’ll need great scores, a team mentality, and a lot of determination to increase your chances of snagging a scholarship.

How Many NCAA Bowling Teams Are There?

101 on the 2023 roster.

The NCAA is one of the most widely recognized college athletic associations in the U.S. According to the NCAA bowling website; there are 101 Bowling teams on the roster for 2023. A few of the colleges on the roster include Vanderbilt, SFA, and McKendree. To see the list for yourself, go to this NCAA link

Related Articles

So, there you have it – the best bowling colleges. If you’re thinking about applying for a scholarship, we urge you to consider some of the colleges we mentioned in this article.

Whether you want to pursue a professional bowling career or something else entirely, we hope you found the information you were looking for, and we wish you the best on your college search.