How American Universities Are Fueling Foreign Olympic Teams

December 13th, 2017 | by Jonathan Yates
How American Universities Are Fueling Foreign Olympic Teams


Athletes from universities in the United States dominate Olympic events.

That is well-known.

What is not as widely realized is that American university athletic departments train those from other nations, too, who then go on to represent their home country in international competition.  This was highlighted in a recent piece in Sports Illustrated, “Off and Running”, which was about the Nigerian women’s bobsled team dreams of Olympic glory in Korea next year in the winter games.  All three of the females were track athletes at universities in the United States. Seun Adigun competed in the hurdles for the University of Houston, representing Nigeria in the 2012 Olypics. Ngozi Onwumere also went to Houston. Akuoma Omeoga ran track for the University of Minnesota.

All received training, treatment, and an education of the highest quality in the world, just like other athletes on scholarship at Division 1 programs, thanks to programs from athletic directors in the United States such as Hunter Yurachek at the University of Houston and Mark Coyle at the University of Minnesota.

In an interview with Joe Parker, Athletic Director at Colorado State University, he pointed out that his school spends $110,000.00 per athlete. Each meal is well over $20.00 in cost at many schools for some sports. “Fueling stations” provide food of a high quality nearly around-the-clock at programs.

Academic support is just as fortifying.

The value of a college athletic scholarship can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. That is why top student-athletes from around the world to do everything possible to earn an athletic scholarship to an American university. Another article in Sports Illustrated earlier this year reported on a football player who had moved to go to high school in Florida in hopes of a scholarship to an American university. This was also the basis for the movie “Bend it Like Beckham,” which tells of a Punjab Sikh girl and her dream journey to university in the United States on a soccer scholarship.

Why do athletes around the world train so hard and dream of earning an athletic scholarship to go to school in the United States?

Because they know that American universities provide the best academic and athletic services for student-athletes of any in the world, especially if they hope to go to the Olympics.  It is not even close, which is why there are never articles about high school students in the United States training so hard to go to college abroad.  There is nothing that competes with the value of a sports scholarship to go to college in America for student-athletes around the world.

To those who disagree with the unrivaled allure of this, name one time someone has turned down a sports scholarship for college in the United States to graduate nearly $40,000.00 in debt, like the average student.

Overall, Tom McMillen, head of LEAD1 Association and a former Olympic medal winner in basketball, estimates that more than $2 billion is spent training athletes from around the world in sports other than basketball for the Olympics by American colleges and universities.  This allows for American universities to dominate in global rankings. Much of this has to do with strong athletic departments, which add to the overall academic and sports puissance of the school. That is why many of the best universities in the world from the United States have strong athletic programs such as Stanford University, Duke University, UCLA, and Cal-Berkeley, among many others.

It is also why other countries are able to field squads capable of competing in the Olympics in all sports!

Jonathan Yates About Jonathan Yates
Jonathan Yates spent much of his career working for Members of Congress in a variety of press and legislative posts. Positions he has held working for Members of Congress and state legislators include Chief of Staff, General Counsel, Legislative Director, Press Secretary, and Legislative Assistant. His journalistic work has appeared in such periodicals as The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Investor's Business Daily, and TheStreet, among others. He has degrees from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Georgetown University Law Center; and has also matriculated at the U.S. Naval War College and The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Jonathan also hosts The Culture of Sports You can follow Jonathan Yates on Twitter at @politicsports13

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