USA OLYMPIANS AND THEIR COLLEGES

This will be somewhat of a different post as it will deal only with USA Olympians. I don’t often do that, trying to always deal with the international set of Olympians but there are some reasons for this.

The post deals with USA Olympians and their college affiliations. This is somewhat unique to the USA that has a strong collegiate sports program, while most other nations focus on club sports.

Further, in some of the work I do with the US Olympic Committee (USOC) I am often asked which states have the most Olympians. That’s a difficult question to answer, trying to tell where somebody is “from.” I am a case in point – born in New Jersey, mostly raised in Massachusetts, lived most of my life in North Carolina, and now live in New Hampshire and South Carolina, I’ve lived in 10 states and 1 Canadian Province. Where the hell am I “from”?

So my default was to list athletes that had been born in a state, died in a state, and attended college in the state, which gave pretty good lists. Unfortunately our database of USA Olympians and their colleges was incomplete.

The reason for that is that we list the affiliations of athletes, but only those at the time of their Olympic participation. So if they attended Harvard, but later competed in the Olympics for the New York Athletic Club, Harvard would not be listed. So I felt like I had to do a fairly complex search to track down as many college affiliations as I could.

It is a Sisyphean task, and one that can never be completed. As I type this, somebody is enrolling in graduate school that I have “missed,” and the list will change yearly, and probably more frequently than that. But with the able assistance of Hilary Evans (@OlyStatman), we’ve come up with very complete lists of USA Olympians and the college affiliations, many of them attending multiple colleges.

As in my day job as a medical journal editor, I must list the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The database we compiled lists USA Olympians only, and only those in medal sports, not including demonstration sports. It does not include USA Olympians who were alternates or did not compete, and it does not include the USA competitors in the Arts Competitions from 1912-48. It also does not include Paralympians.

To be listed with a college affiliation, all we needed to know was if the athlete “attended” such a college – this list says nothing about graduation.

We excluded foreign athletes attending US colleges. Many of our US colleges have hosted foreign athletes who have later competed at the Olympics, but we are not including those, because of the original purpose of the database, as described above.

We excluded coaches, trainers, therapists, physicians, and other ancillary personnel who accompany the Olympic teams. As I attended the greatest university in the United States, and have three degrees from Duke (’73 BA, ’84 MD, ’90 Ortho), I would have liked to include Mike Krzyzewski, and other Duke coaches who have worked at the Olympics, to increase our “Olympian” count, but that is not the purpose of this project.

In summary, the database includes USA Olympians only, who competed in medal sports only, and who attended any known college, USA or otherwise, although the vast majority are US colleges. Many colleges have different lists, including foreign athletes, alternates, demo sport athletes, coaches and affiliate personnel, Paralympians, and others. We have no problems with any such lists, but the purpose of our project was to obtain a list of USA Olympic competitors and their college affiliations so we used the inclusion and exclusion criteria as above.

We have used multiple sources. First we used our Olympedia (www.olympedia.org) database, pulling any college affiliations for USA athletes. We also examined our text bios on the USA Olympians on Olympedia and pulled out the colleges mentioned. Then, we used a USOC database from 1990 that lists college affiliations. All USA Media Guides from 1956-2016 were fully examined. We also checked online lists of colleges and their Olympians. We then were fortunate enough to have contact with CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America), via Doug Vance, their Executive Director, and Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. Doug contacted his membership and many of them sent us lists of their Olympians. Thanx to Doug and Bill for their help with this project.

Finally, Hilary Evans (@OlyStatman) did what Hilary always does, and better than anybody, which is find things nobody else can. Hilary went thru the entire list and found many missing and obscure affiliations.

The entire database of USA Olympians and their colleges can be found in the attached Excel spreadsheet (USA Olympians Colleges), but let’s look a little at who the leading colleges are.

The most prominent finding is that California colleges have contributed huge numbers of Olympians to the @TeamUSA effort. In fact the four leading schools, in terms of number of athletes, are: 1) Stanford, 2), UCLA, 3), USC, and 4) Cal Berkeley. Here is the top 20 by # of athletes, games attended, and medals won (Games = # of games attended by their athletes):

College Athletes Games Medals Rank
Stanford University 289 408 282 1
UCLA 277 394 241 2
Southern Cal 251 357 228 3
U Cal Berkeley 212 283 201 4
Harvard University 210 276 121 5
Yale University 149 187 113 6
University of Michigan 145 189 131 7
University of Minnesota 140 191 68 8
University of Pennsylvania 131 166 71 9
University of Colorado 128 189 27 10
University of Washington 122 159 72 11
University of Wisconsin 121 172 74 =12
Dartmouth University 121 169 40 =12
The Ohio State University 104 147 98 =14
University of Texas 104 144 123 =14
Indiana University 103 133 95 16
Princeton University 102 135 64 17
Cornell University 92 114 47 18
University of North Carolina 89 121 52 19
Columbia University 80 117 59 20

If we break this down by state, one of the original purposes of this search, this becomes even more dramatic. California has almost three times as many Olympians attending college there as the next US state, New York. Here are the top 10 states by # of Olympians:

State Athletes Games Golds Medals
California 1668 2363 678 1302
New York 559 795 110 239
Massachusetts 456 604 89 257
Pennsylvania 394 497 67 184
Mchigan 313 415 99 219
Colorado 288 431 28 76
Texas 276 364 157 254
Illinois 238 318 44 120
Minnesota 210 293 22 87
Connecticut 205 262 81 153

Pretty dominant for California, isn’t it? Of note, athletes from California colleges have almost as many gold medals and medals as the next 9 highest ranking US states.

What about if we look at Summer and Winter? Surely California colleges cannot have the most Winter Olympians, can they? No, they don’t, that honor going to the University of Minnesota. Here are the lists of the top 10 for Summer and Winter USA Olympians:

Season College Athletes Games Gold Medals
Summer UCLA 280 396 136 243
Summer Stanford University 280 394 144 275
Summer Southern Cal 249 352 114 228
Summer U Cal Berkeley 202 269 124 199
Summer Harvard University 160 200 36 85
Summer Yale University 133 170 52 101
Summer University of Michigan 129 169 71 121
Summer University of Pennsylvania 127 162 22 70
Summer University of Washington 115 149 34 70
Summer University of Texas 104 144 80 123

 

Season College Athletes Games Gold Medals
Winter University of Minnesota 93 122 15 49
Winter Dartmouth University 79 113 5 22
Winter University of Colorado 61 91 0 9
Winter Harvard University 50 76 11 36
Winter University of Utah 46 83 3 9
Winter University of Wisconsin 44 73 8 32
Winter University of Vermont 39 61 1 5
Winter Boston College 37 51 2 20
Winter Boston University 32 44 5 22
Winter Northern Michigan University 31 51 4 31
Winter Westminster College 29 45 2 5

What about by gender? Are there any differences among the colleges USA men and women Olympians have attended? Not really big differences, but here are those top 10 lists:

Gender College Athletes Games Gold Medals
Female UCLA 119 180 74 131
Female Stanford University 110 163 70 131
Female Southern Cal 71 111 38 84
Female U Cal Berkeley 69 102 49 90
Female University of North Carolina 58 85 22 33
Female University of Texas 45 61 29 44
Female University of Wisconsin 42 61 6 29
Female University of Florida 38 60 30 52
Female University of Arizona 37 57 28 51
Female Harvard University 36 58 7 30

 

Gender College Athletes Games Gold Medals
Male Stanford University 187 255 81 154
Male Southern Cal 185 252 76 145
Male Harvard University 183 232 43 100
Male UCLA 166 223 62 112
Male U Cal Berkeley 149 189 82 118
Male Yale University 134 168 53 102
Male University of Pennsylvania 120 150 19 59
Male University of Michigan 117 152 66 114
Male University of Minnesota 111 145 17 46
Male University of Colorado 97 144 6 21

It does get more interesting when we look at sports and years, as many colleges often have certain sports for which they are best known (did I mention Duke and basketball?). Here are the leading 2-3 colleges for each of the sports on the Olympic Program:

Sport College Athletes Games
Alpine Skiing University of Colorado 29 40
Alpine Skiing Dartmouth University 22 31
Sport College Athletes Games
Archery Arizona State University 5 9
Archery Texas A&M University 3 7
Sport College Athletes Games
Athletics Southern Cal 87 121
Athletics UCLA 72 126
Athletics Stanford University 54 64
Sport College Athletes Games
Badminton Arizona State University 5 7
Badminton UCLA 4 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Baseball Stanford University 5 5
Baseball LSU 4 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Basketball UCLA 15 15
Basketball University of Tennessee 12 17
Basketball University of North Carolina 12 13
Sport College Athletes Games
Beach Volleyball UCLA 13 16
Beach Volleyball Stanford University 4 7
Beach Volleyball U Cal Santa Barbara 4 5
Sport College Athletes Games
Biathlon Dartmouth University 12 15
Biathlon University of Vermont 5 10
Biathlon Middlebury College 5 6
Sport College Athletes Games
Bobsledding SUNY Plattsburgh 8 9
Bobsledding Cornell University 5 6
Sport College Athletes Games
Boxing Northern Michigan University 7 7
Boxing Idaho State University 4 4
Boxing The Ohio State University 3 3
Sport College Athletes Games
Canoeing University of Maryland 13 20
Canoeing Cal State Long Beach 7 9
Canoeing Dartmouth University 7 8
Sport College Athletes Games
Cross-Country Skiing Dartmouth University 17 29
Cross-Country Skiing University of Vermont 12 21
Cross-Country Skiing Middlebury College 9 14
Sport College Athletes Games
Curling Bemidji State University 5 6
Curling University of Wisconsin 4 5
Curling University of North Dakota 3 3
Sport College Athletes Games
Cycling University of Colorado 13 16
Cycling Penn State University 4 7
Cycling University of Arizona 4 6
Cycling University of Wisconsin 4 5
Cycling Cal State Northridge 4 4
Cycling U Cal Berkeley 4 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Diving The Ohio State University 21 29
Diving Indiana University 17 22
Diving Southern Cal 12 18
Sport College Athletes Games
Equestrian Events US Military Academy 19 23
Equestrian Events University of Pennsylvania 3 10
Sport College Athletes Games
Fencing Columbia University 28 45
Fencing New York University 25 45
Fencing University of Pennsylvania 15 25
Sport College Athletes Games
Figure Skating Harvard University 13 24
Figure Skating Colorado College 8 11
Figure Skating University of Colorado 7 9
Sport College Athletes Games
Football University of North Carolina 20 31
Football UCLA 17 22
Football University of Virginia 16 19
Sport College Athletes Games
Freestyle Skiing University of Utah 11 23
Freestyle Skiing Westminster College 9 12
Sport College Athletes Games
Golf Harvard University 3 3
Golf Columbia University 2 2
Golf University of Georgia 2 2
Sport College Athletes Games
Gymnastics UCLA 30 33
Gymnastics Penn State University 11 12
Gymnastics University of Illinois 10 15
Sport College Athletes Games
Handball Adelphi University 7 11
Handball US Air Force Academy 4 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Hockey University of North Carolina 17 23
Hockey Old Dominion University 10 11
Hockey Princeton University 9 14
Sport College Athletes Games
Ice Hockey University of Minnesota 68 83
Ice Hockey Boston College 32 42
Ice Hockey Harvard University 29 41
Sport College Athletes Games
Judo San José State University 15 22
Judo University of Colorado 6 7
Sport College Athletes Games
Luge University of Montana 5 9
Luge DeVry University 5 8
Sport College Athletes Games
Modern Pentathlon US Military Academy 22 23
Modern Pentathlon University of Texas 3 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Nordic Combined Dartmouth University 7 8
Nordic Combined University of Denver 6 6
Sport College Athletes Games
Rowing Harvard University 72 94
Rowing University of Washington 66 80
Rowing U Cal Berkeley 58 67
Sport College Athletes Games
Rugby Football Stanford University 15 18
Rugby Football U Cal Berkeley 8 9
Rugby Football Santa Clara University 5 7
Sport College Athletes Games
Sailing Harvard University 19 20
Sailing Yale University 12 17
Sailing Princeton University 10 12
Sport College Athletes Games
Shooting West Virginia University 10 16
Shooting University of Colorado 7 11
Shooting Troy University 6 10
Sport College Athletes Games
Short-Track Speedskating Northern Michigan University 19 29
Short-Track Speedskating University of Colorado 4 6
Sport College Athletes Games
Skeleton SUNY Plattsburgh 2 3
Sport College Athletes Games
Ski Jumping Dartmouth University 6 7
Ski Jumping University of Vermont 4 6
Ski Jumping University of Wyoming 4 4
Sport College Athletes Games
Snowboarding Westminster College 5 7
Snowboarding Colorado Mountain College 3 6
Sport College Athletes Games
Softball UCLA 11 20
Softball University of Arizona 4 8
Softball Cal State Fresno 4 7
Sport College Athletes Games
Speedskating University of Wisconsin 11 23
Speedskating University of Minnesota 10 16
Speedskating Marquette University 7 15
Sport College Athletes Games
Swimming Stanford University 60 81
Swimming Southern Cal 59 78
Swimming University of Texas 51 72
Sport College Athletes Games
Synchronized Swimming The Ohio State University 5 8
Synchronized Swimming Stanford University 5 7
Synchronized Swimming DeAnza College 5 5
Sport College Athletes Games
Table Tennis Princeton University 2 2
Sport College Athletes Games
Tennis Stanford University 6 10
Tennis Harvard University 5 5
Sport College Athletes Games
Volleyball Southern Cal 24 34
Volleyball UCLA 19 25
Volleyball Stanford University 17 27
Sport College Athletes Games
Water Polo Stanford University 39 64
Water Polo UCLA 37 52
Water Polo Southern Cal 27 35
Sport College Athletes Games
Weightlifting Pikes Peak Community College 4 5
Weightlifting The Ohio State University 3 6
Weightlifting University of Illinois 3 6
Weightlifting Southwestern Louisiana University 3 4
Weightlifting U Colorado-Colorado Springs 3 3
Sport College Athletes Games
Wrestling Oklahoma State University 29 37
Wrestling University of Oklahoma 15 23
Wrestling Iowa State University 14 15

The above are not separated by gender and you can see the female influence in several sports, notably in basketball, where the University of Tennessee ranks highly, and football (soccer), where the University of North Carolina ranks first, both based primarily on their female players.

Certain schools appear frequently on the above lists, as you would expect. Notably, Stanford and UCLA are among the top 3 in 9 sports, while Dartmouth, Harvard, and the University of Colorado are listed in 6 sports.

And here is how the top colleges have changed over the years, looking only at the top USA colleges represented at each Games:

Season Year College Athletes
Summer 1896 Harvard University 6
Summer 1900 University of Pennsylvania 12
Summer 1904 Christian Brothers' College St. Louis 11
Summer Yale University 11
Summer 1906 Yale University 3
Summer 1908 Cornell University 9
Summer 1912 Cornell University 8
Summer Harvard University 8
Summer 1920 US Naval Academy 22
Summer 1924 Stanford University 19
Summer 1928 Southern Cal 13
Summer 1932 Southern Cal 15
Summer 1936 Southern Cal 21
Summer 1948 U Cal Berkeley 14
Summer Southern Cal 14
Summer 1952 Southern Cal 17
Summer 1956 Southern Cal 19
Summer 1960 Southern Cal 23
Summer 1964 Southern Cal 26
Summer 1968 UCLA 16
Summer 1972 UCLA 27
Summer 1976 UCLA 31
Summer 1984 UCLA 35
Summer 1984 U Cal Berkeley 16
Summer 1988 UCLA 28
Summer 1992 UCLA 27
Summer 1996 UCLA 35
Summer 2000 UCLA 40
Summer 2004 UCLA 34
Summer 2008 Stanford University 31
Summer 2012 Stanford University 29
Summer 2016 Stanford University 30

 

Season Year College Athletes
Winter 1920 Dartmouth University 2
Winter 1924 Harvard University 2
Winter 1928 Harvard University 3
Winter 1932 Yale University 7
Winter 1936 Dartmouth University 4
Winter Harvard University 4
Winter 1948 Dartmouth University 8
Winter 1952 University of Minnesota 9
Winter 1956 University of Minnesota 7
Winter 1960 University of Minnesota 9
Winter 1964 University of Minnesota 13
Winter 1968 University of Minnesota 10
Winter 1972 University of Colorado 11
Winter 1976 University of Wisconsin 9
Winter 1980 University of Minnesota 9
Winter 1984 University of Minnesota 9
Winter 1988 University of Vermont 7
Winter 1992 Dartmouth University 9
Winter 1994 Northern Michigan University 11
Winter 1998 University of Colorado 12
Winter 2002 University of Utah 12
Winter 2006 University of Utah 11
Winter 2010 Westminster College 18
Winter 2014 Westminster College 19

There you can see some trends. In the early years of US Olympic participation the Ivy League schools contributed the most Summer Olympians, while since 1924 it has always been a California school.

Finally, one thing is obvious about this analysis – there have been a lot of smart young men and women on @TeamUSA, but we went a bit further. What about graduate schools?

We have that information as well, broken down by type of graduate or professional school, so here we list the top schools by each type, but also the known number of USA Olympians for each type of graduate or professional school.

Type GradProf Athletes
Business School Harvard University 8
Business School Stanford University 6
Business School University of Pennsylvania 4
Business School Totals 52
Type GradProf Athletes
Chiropractic School Cleveland Chiropractic College 2
Chiropractic School Totals 5
Type GradProf Athletes
Dental School Indiana University 1
Dental School Loyola University New Orleans 1
Dental School New York University 1
Dental School Temple University 1
Dental School The Ohio State University 1
Dental School University of the Pacific 1
Dental School Totals 6
Type GradProf Athletes
Graduate School Columbia University 13
Graduate School Stanford University 10
Graduate School The Ohio State University 10
Graduate School University of Pennsylvania 10
Graduate School Totals 255
Type GradProf Athletes
Law School Harvard University 11
Law School Columbia University 4
Law School Cornell University 3
Law School Stanford University 3
Law School U Cal Berkeley 3
Law School University of Chicago 3
Law School Southern Cal 3
Law School Totals 70
Type GradProf Athletes
Medical School Harvard University 4
Medical School University of Pennsylvania 4
Medical School Columbia University 3
Medical School Stanford University 3
Medical School University of Cincinnati 3
Medical School Totals 69
Type GradProf Athletes
Rhodes Scholar Oxford University (GBR) (Balliol College) 2
Rhodes Scholar Oxford University (GBR) (Magdalen College) 2
Rhodes Scholar Oxford University (GBR) (St. John's College) 2
Rhodes Scholar Totals 9
Type GradProf Athletes
Veterinary School University of Pennsylvania 2
Veterinary School Totals 5

Impressive that these tremendous athletes, who spend so much time training and competing, have also excelled academically. As to the Rhodes Scholars, there have been 34 known Rhodes Scholars among all Olympians, with 9 of those coming from the United States. Here is that list:

Name NOC Sport Rhodes
Bill Bradley USA BAS 1965 Rhodes Scholar – Worcester College
John Carleton USA CCS/NCO 1922 Rhodes Scholar – Magdalen College
Eddie Eagan USA BOB/BOX 1922 Rhodes Scholar – New College
Tom McMillen USA BAS 1974 Rhodes Scholar – University College
John Misha Petkevich USA FSK 1973 Rhodes Scholar – Magdalen College
Annette Salmeen USA SWI 1997 Rhodes Scholar – St. John’s College
Bill Stevenson USA ATH 1922 Rhodes Scholar – Balliol College
Norm Taber USA ATH 1913 Rhodes Scholar – St. John’s College
Alan Valentine USA RUG 1922 Rhodes Scholar – Balliol College

So that’s it. Full details can be found in the spreadsheet that lists all USA Olympians and their academic affiliations, which is linked above. Let us know if you see any errors or additions. As we stated, the list can never be complete and almost by necessity, is certainly incomplete.

 

7 thoughts on “USA OLYMPIANS AND THEIR COLLEGES”

  1. I see an addition: Lee Talbott (1908, Cornell University) attended a second university after the Olympics, Penn State. (“LEE TALBOTT TO PENN STATE. Former Manual and K. C. A. C. Athlete Couldn’t Enter Cornell This Year”. Kansas City Star. 11 November 1909. p. 8.)

  2. Harold Van Buskirk is shown in the spreadsheet as having attended both Penn State and University of Pennsylvania. The Penn affiliation is obvious(http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/sports/olympics/athletes.html), but I find nothing on the Penn State connection. Penn has unfortunately been mistakenly referred to as Penn State many times. I’m wondering if this sort of thing happened in a source document. Or did Van Buskirk drop by PSU for a cup of coffee on his way to Penn?

  3. I found a couple things that did not make it into the spreadsheet:
    (1) Kathy Corrigan (1964, GYM) earned an M.Ed. degree from Penn State in 1968 (see http://kathycorrigans.com/about-kathy/).
    (2) William Cox (1924, ATH, bronze – 3000m team) attended Penn State. (University of Rochester is not mentioned in a brief Wikipedia bio.)

  4. Similar to Harold Van Buskirk, I have not found a connection to Penn State for Charles Hewes Moore, Jr., other than his father and son (both also named Charles Hewes Moore), who were PSU alumni. Charles H. Moore, Sr. was an alternate at the 1924 Summer Games. But Moore, Jr. has had a lifelong love of Cornell, as he explains in his 2017 self-published autobiography, “Running on Purpose.” Its only mention of possibly attending Penn State is that he declined their offer of admission in favor of Cornell, where he later served as Athletic Director for five years. I know that Penn State has many two-year branch campuses around the state, where Moore, Jr. resides. If the connection is that he perhaps took a course or two at the local branch campus, that would be a truly impressive discovery. Last, I did find one Charles H. Moore, Jr. listed as a supporter of the PSU Athletics Dept. “2014 Alumni Challenge” under basketball (http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/psu/sports/c-varsitys/auto_pdf/2013-14/misc_non_event/varsity-s-mens-thank-u.pdf), which by itself is not useful.

    1. I emailed Charles Moore, Jr. at an email address in his book and asked him. His reply:
      “No, I never attended Penn State although, because of family ties, have been an enthusiastic supporter. I don’t recall making a gift to their basketball program in 2014. I hope this helps.
      Charles H . Moore Jr.”

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