The Best Colleges for Intramural Sports

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July 30, 2021

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College intramural sports provide students with an outlet for fun, exercise, and networking while living on or near campus. These programs encourage students to meet new peers and engage with campus life, often enriching their college experience.

Learners can attend many different colleges that offer intramural sports, but some institutions provide programs that stand out from the rest. To help degree-seekers find those programs, the following page highlights the best colleges for intramural sports in the U.S.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The methodology used to create this ranking considered the intramural sports, facilities, and resources available at a school. We examined the number of sports and activities offered, the quality of the programs based on student ratings, the amount/quality of recreational facilities, and the support given to participants.

Top Colleges for Intramural Sports

University of Notre Dame View School Profile South Bend, Indiana

ND improves the health and skills of students and strengthens the campus community through intramural sports and other recreational activities. Students and faculty can join as a team or sign up as a free agent. They can play in leagues and tournaments by registering through the school's IMLeagues App.

ND offers more than 60 intramural sports, including football, soccer, cornhole, golf, table tennis, and basketball. Participants can play with members of their residence halls or play against other halls. ND also offers leagues and teams that cater specifically to graduate students and off-campus students.

Loyola University Chicago View School Profile Chicago, Illinois

Loyola runs one of the best college intramural sports programs. The university offers tournament and league formats in various sports, including baseball, soccer, flag football, cornhole, and racquetball. The school also hosts a Quidditch league and an ultimate Frisbee league for men's, women's, and coed teams.

At Loyola, most intramural programs run for 2-4 weeks. Participants must register through the IMLeagues app. Students, staff, and faculty can also join fitness classes, personal training, and swimming sessions at the university's many facilities. Loyola operates a recreation center with an eight-lane pool and a multipurpose gym, along with an outdoor campus recreation area with a rock wall, hiking trails, and paddling opportunities.

Purdue University View School Profile West Lafayette, Indiana

Purdue runs an intramural sports program with more than 18,000 participants. Offering more than 40 sports, including football, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball (along with less traditional activities like cornhole, ladderball, and esports), Purdue provides options for all students, staff, and faculty.

In 1957, the university established one of the first recreational facilities designated for student use. Over time, Purdue has built on that tradition by adding more than 350,000 square feet of recreational space, including an Olympic-sized pool, multiple fitness centers, five gymnasiums, two climbing walls, and a Myrtha pool. Purdue uses the IMLeagues app for intramural sports.

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey View School Profile New Brunswick, New Jersey

Running more than 50 intramural sports leagues and featuring top facilities, Rutgers has become one of the best colleges for intramural sports. At Rutgers, intramural sports are held on four campuses. Men's, women's, and coed teams may register. Teams do not have mandatory practices or experience requirements, and students do not need to supply their own equipment.

Intramural sports at Rutgers run in the spring and fall semesters. Available sports include basketball, softball, cricket, street hockey, and ultimate Frisbee, along with esports and games like bingo, trivia, and battleship. In addition to outdoor courts and fields, Rutgers operates three recreational centers, a fitness center, and a gym.

Clemson University View School Profile Clemson, South Carolina

Clemson's intramural sports program includes more than 20 activities, including canoe battleship, basketball, cornhole, dodgeball, football, soccer, and water polo. All school staff, students, and faculty can become participants by registering on IMLeagues and joining a men's, women's, or coed team. Participants may also register as a free agent.

Clemson's facilities include a recreation center with six basketball courts, five racquetball courts, indoor and outdoor tracks, two fitness studios, a wellness zone, and a climbing wall. The university also operates a separate fitness studio and an outdoor fitness and wellness center. Clemson provides an online interface that lets students see whether facilities are available at any given time.

University of Virginia View School Profile Charlottesville, Virginia

UVA has become one of the top colleges for intramural sports. To improve student health and networking, UVA operates two recreational centers, an aquatic center, a squash center, four gymnasiums, a climbing center, and many outdoor courts and fields.

At UVA, intramural sport offerings include cornhole, basketball, kickball, spikeball, and tennis. The university offers intramurals every day of the week, as well as opportunities to join leagues, weekly tournaments, and contests. UVA also operates esport leagues for FIFA, Madden, and Rocket League. Students can also take advantage of bouldering, hiking, and boating activities.

University of California, Los Angeles View School Profile Los Angeles, California

UCLA operates a robust intramural sports program, providing individual activities and team sports for coed groups, fraternities, men, and women. The university registers more than 7,000 participants each year for quarterly tournaments, leagues, and special events. Intramurals take place all week, and students, staff, and faculty can gain full access with a $25 membership.

UCLA offers 13 regularly scheduled intramural sports and activities, including basketball, flag football, cornhole, dodgeball, and racquetball. Participants enjoy access to 16 recreational facilities, including an aquatic center, an outdoor adventure center, intramural fields, a student activities center, and a center for sand volleyball.

Gannon University View School Profile Erie, Pennsylvania

Gannon's intramural sports program emphasizes participation and enjoyment without requiring experience. The university runs more than 20 different sports and activities, including flag football, golf, basketball, spikeball, and dodgeball. Participants can also play games like fantasy football and battleship. The university organizes all leagues, tournaments, and contests through the IMLeagues app.

Gannon's intramurals welcome all students, staff, and faculty, including full-time and part-time learners. All sports and activities are free and take place at outdoor courts and fields or in the recreation and wellness center, which houses a gymnasium with a rubberized track, a six-lane pool, and two racquetball courts.

San Francisco State University View School Profile San Francisco, California

SF State hosts a popular intramural sports program. Designed to promote healthy lifestyles and improve student participation and communication on campus, SF's intramurals include outdoor soccer, indoor soccer, basketball, flag football, and volleyball. Students can also take advantage of activities like esports and fantasy football.

SF State's intramural sports accept all students, staff, and faculty who register on the IMLeagues app. Participants can join men's, women's, and coed teams or enter as a free agent. Most sports run Monday through Thursday for 8-10 weeks in the fall and spring semesters. Facilities include a wellness center with multiple gyms, a natatorium, a climbing wall, and fitness studios, as well as outdoor fields and courts.

University of Pennsylvania View School Profile Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Penn offers intramural sports to promote friendly competition and healthy living on campus. Participants register to join specific teams or as free agents through IMLeagues. They can play in tournaments, leagues, and contests that cater to men's, women's, or coed teams. Available sports include badminton, bocce, ping pong, and pickleball, along with other activities like trivia and esports.

Penn houses some of the best intramural and recreational facilities in the country. The school's health and fitness center features an Olympic-sized pool, a 40-foot climbing wall, and many fitness and gym spaces. Students can also access a golf simulator, an aquatic center, a separate fitness center, and a field track.

University of California, San Diego View School Profile San Diego, California

Offering sports and activities every quarter and boasting some of the most impressive recreational facilities in the country, UC San Diego is a top college for intramural sports. Students can choose from more than 20 sports, including basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball. The university accepts men's, women's, and coed teams, and individual students, staff, and faculty also have the option to join as a free agent.

Participants enjoy access to one of the largest recreational programs in the country, including the Recreational, Intramural, and Athletic Complex, an aquatic center with two Olympic-sized pools, a climbing center, and a waterfront recreational center that offers kayaking, surfing, and sailing.

William Marsh Rice University View School Profile Houston, Texas

Rice's intramural sports are open to all students, staff, and faculty. The university offers more than 20 sports and activities, including bocce, badminton, axe throwing, esports, and racquetball. Participants can register on their own or with a team through the IMLeagues app.

In addition to outdoor fields and courts, intramurals take place at the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center, which houses an exercise room, a competition pool, a recreation pool, squash and racquetball courts, and 11 fitness rooms. Rice also offers 30 annual outdoor trips through the Rice Outdoor Programs and Education program.

University of Iowa View School Profile Iowa City, Iowa

UI boasts one of the leading intramural sports programs in the country. Using IMLeagues to manage registration, the university's intramural programs accept all students, staff, and faculty. UI runs tournaments and leagues for esports, football, basketball, soccer, and golf.

In addition to a wealth of sports and activities, UI operates some of the best facilities in the nation, including the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center, which houses a fitness center, two gymnasiums, a climbing wall, a swimming pool with a deep diving well, a 25-person spa, and a lazy river. UI also operates a boathouse, a nature recreational area, a softball complex, and more than 40 courts.

University of Miami View School Profile Coral Gables, Florida

UM has long used intramural sports and activities to engage students, staff, and faculty and enhance the sense of community on campus. Through IMLeagues, participants can take part in volleyball, basketball, kickball, football, and softball, joining full leagues or tournaments for men's, women's, and coed teams.

In the Herbert Wellness Center, UM operates a student-led recreation center, a facility with an 18,000-square foot fitness center, multiple pools, gymnasiums, and courts. The university also operates the UHealth fitness and wellness center.

University of Houston View School Profile Houston, Texas

UH offers more than 20 intramural sports and activities for full-time and part-time students, faculty, and staff. Major offerings include football, soccer, table tennis, and basketball. Students can also participate in esports tournaments and other gaming contests.

The university oversees an array of basketball courts, multipurpose rooms, and indoor and outdoor soccer fields. It also has a fitness center, a game room, a lap pool, and a climbing wall. Furthermore, UH boasts an outdoor water facility with pools, water slides, and a waterfall.

What Are Intramural Sports in College?

College intramural sports are organized sports and activities for students, staff, and faculty. While these leagues, tournaments, and events can be competitive, intramural sports often emphasize fun and participation above all else. Participants typically register and play once or twice each week for 1-10 weeks, depending on the school and program.

While activities and sports vary by school, most programs offer variations of the major sports, including basketball, soccer, flag football, and softball, along with growing activities like esports and cornhole.

Why Are Intramural Sports Important?

Many people enjoy playing sports and games, but not everyone can play at the level of competitive intercollegiate teams. College intramural sports provide students with the chance to play, have fun, and meet new people. These activities also give learners a way to relieve the stress of their studies, which can help improve mental health.

College intramural sports also promote physical health through exercise and physical activity. These programs keep students engaged in on-campus activities and make good use of campus recreational facilities.

What Are the Educational Benefits of Playing Intramural Sports?

In addition to mental and physical health benefits, college intramural sports can also provide educational benefits. Students who participate in these activities improve their social skills, which can pay dividends in classrooms. Learners may also feel more involved and comfortable on campus, which can lead to more exploration and interest in their education.

Additionally, college intramural sports can build teamwork and cooperation skills. These group activities also enhance leadership abilities while decreasing stress.

Can Anyone Play Intramural Sports in College?

Most college intramural sports are open to any and all students, staff, and faculty. Typically, participants need to attend the school in some fashion, which includes full-time and part-time students, salaried staff, and school volunteers. Some intramural sports programs require a recreational fee.

Although every program uses a unique format, most offer men's, women's, and coed teams. Since these programs focus on participation and fun above competition, most allow people of all skill and experience levels to join. Furthermore, many schools now offer accessible activities and facilities to accommodate all types of participants.

How Do You Join Intramural Sports?

Many intramural programs use the IMLeagues app for registration, tracking, and management. Typically, participants must ensure they have paid recreational fees, register on the intramural sports page or app, and find a team.

In most cases, applicants can sign up as a free agent if they do not already have a team in mind. Most intramural programs run in the fall and spring, although some offer winter and summer sports, as well.

Find Additional Resources

The Student Guide to College Planning

Your Guide to College Applications

How to Maintain Mental and Physical Health in College


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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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