From education to employment

Athlete Shares Tips for Sporty Students When Deciding On A University

  • New research from PureGym has revealed which universities have helped to produce the most professional sporting graduates 
  • Durham University leads the table in the United Kingdom, with 141 professional sports stars having studied at the Northeast uni, including Gabby Logan and Jonathan Edwards
  • In the sports-centric United States, the University of Florida reigns supreme, with a huge 750 pros having attended the college, including NFL stars and medal-winning Olympians

The universities most likely to turn students into pro sports stars have been revealed by new research from PureGym.

With a new university year just around the corner, the national gym chain wanted to find out which universities sport enthusiasts should head to if they want to improve their chances at going pro.

Researchers reviewed the origins of over 10,000 notable sporting alumni from universities in both the UK and the United States, and found that in the United Kingdom, it’s Durham University that leads the way.

Topping the league table with an impressive 141 students who have turned pro in their respective sports following their time at the university, Durham has long been a celebrated sporting institution. Its sporting alumni includes international rhythmic gymnast (and now TV pro) Gabby Logan, Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards and Holly Colvin, the youngest ever cricketer to play for England. Durham has also been named as Britain’s top Team Sport university, adding to its strong sporting credentials.

Oxford and Cambridge complete the podium, withOxford narrowly beating its rival, having played home to thirteen more sporting pros, including the likes of William Webb Ellis, the originator of the sport of rugby and Steph Cook MBE, the Sydney 2000 gold medal winning pentathlete.

The UK Universities That Produce The Most Professional Sports Stars

RankUniversity# of Pro Sports Stars
1Durham University141
2University of Oxford86
3University of Cambridge73
4Loughborough University38
5University of Edinburgh31
6University of Birmingham30
7University of Bath28
8Cardiff Metropolitan University25
9Brunel University London20
10Northumbria University19

In America, sport is an even bigger aspect of college life, with college teams garnering as much or even more support than the professional leagues. Plus, with such an array of popular sports in the states, it’s no surprise so many more pro athletes are created at university level.

Winning the title of the college that creates the most pros, the University of Florida has helped some 750 professional sports stars on their way, since the university was founded in 1905. These include famous quarterback Tim Tebow and 12-time Olympic medallist Dara Torres. 

The rest of the top ten is littered with recognisable names,such as the University of Michigan, home to seven-time Superbowl champ Tom Brady and Olympic icon Michael Phelps, the University of Southern California which is the court of choice for world-renowned tennis pro Stan Smith, and Stanford University, which counts John McEnroe among its most famous sporting alumni.

The US Universities That Produce The Most Professional Sports Stars

RankUniversity# of Pro Sports Stars
1University of Florida750
2University of Michigan633
3University of Southern California545
4University of Wisconsin-Madison511
5University of Notre Dame489
6Florida State University347
7Georgia Institute of Technology332
8Vanderbilt University326
9The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill259
10Stanford University246

Stephen Rowe, Chief Marketing Officer at PureGym commented: “Choosing the right university is a big choice in any student’s life, and if sport is a large part of what you do, that is undoubtedly going to play a part in the decision-making process too. 

If your dream is to go pro, choosing a university that consistently produces the most athletes may help to give you a leg up, especially if they’re known for having world class sports facilities or scholarships. 

Whether you’re interested in a career in sports or not, keeping fit and healthy is an important part of student life. We’re proud to have 320+ low cost gyms across the UK to help students stay active around their studies.”

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