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Olympics 2012: Which U.S. colleges led the way in London?


Michigan's Michael Phelps led the Olympics in medals (six), but where did his alma mater Michigan rank?

Football and basketball remain king, but at least once every four years, schools should brag about their Olympic medal count.

That’s at least the case in the Pac-12, where four schools sent athletes to the London Olympics who won at least 10 medals. 

USC alone earned 20 medals by our count, which was as many as the Netherlands and Ukraine and more than New Zealand, Brazil, Spain and Jamaica (Usain Bolt notwithstanding).

Although the Pac-12 remains competitive across a wide array of Olympic sports — from water polo and rowing to soccer and basketball — Florida and Michigan made a bid for No. 1 in the medal count thanks to their two star swimming alums.

In our medal count, we counted current and former athletes for each school as well as those who have already signed a letter of intent. Although team events count for only one medal in the Olympics’ official standings, we credited medals for each individual on a team or leg of a relay.

For example, Florida receives credit for individual medals for swimmer Ryan Lochte’s and sprinter Jeff Demps’ legs on relay teams and two medals for Abby Wambach's and Heather Mitts’ presence on the USA women’s soccer team.

Also, we aimed to include only athletes who competed for the school in question. Sorry, USC, you don’t get credit for Allyson Felix’s gold medals. She attended USC but did not participate in the track team.

With all that in mind, here’s our count for the schools that led Olympics in medals.

USC (20 medals)

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Gold: 9 | Silver: 9 | Bronze: 2

Notes: USC’s medal haul included athletes from the United States, France, Tunisia, Spain and Russia in track, swimming, water polo, soccer, volleyball and beach volleyball. Swimmer Rebecca Soni earned gold medals in the 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay and the silver in the 100 breast. Omitted from our count of USC medalists are two swimmers who competed elsewhere, Amanda Weir (Georgia) and Margaux Farrell (Indiana). Allyson Felix, who won three gold medals in track, attended USC but did not compete for the Trojans.

Cal (17 medals)

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Gold: 11 | Silver: 1 | Bronze: 5

Notes: Swimmer Dana Vollmer, who began her college career at Florida but finished at Cal, took home gold in the 100m butterfly, the 4x100m medley relay and 200m free relay. Nathan Adrian matched Vollmer’s medal count with two golds (400m free, 4x100m medley relay). Cal medaled in swimming, soccer, water polo and rowing.

Stanford (15 medals)

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Gold: 12 | Silver: 2 | Bronze: 1

Notes: Stanford earned more gold medals than any college and more than all but six countries in the Olympics. The Cardinal’s 12 gold medals alone were more than all but five other schools. Stanford earned its gold medal haul thanks to women’s sports — water polo, soccer, beach volleyball, rowing — plus a gold in men’s tennis doubles.

Florida (14 medals)

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Gold: 6 | Silver: 5 | Bronze: 3

Notes: Ryan Lochte tied for the second-most individual medals in the Olympics with five: Gold in 400m individual medley and 800m free relay, silver in the 200m IM and 4x100m free relay and bronze in the 200m backstroke. Swimmer Elizabeth Beisel and long jumper/high jumper Will Claye also had multiple medals for Florida. Longtime Gators men’s swimming coach Gregg Troy also led the American men’s swim team in London. Florida alums also medaled in track and soccer. (Dana Vollmer’s three gold medals are included in the tally for Cal, where she finished her college career.)

Michigan (13 medals)

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Gold: 9 | Silver: 2 | Bronze: 2

Notes: Clearly, former Wolverine Michael Phelps’ six medals (four gold, two silver for the most in the London Olympics) lead the way here. Four other Michigan alums medaled in swimming, but Ann Arbor also produced a gold medalist in water polo (Betsey Armstrong) and a silver medalist in rowing (Janine Hanson).

Texas (12 medals)

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Gold: 5 | Silver: 5 | Bronze: 2

Notes: Swimming led the Longhorns’ medal haul with Ricky Berens winning gold as part of the 4x200m free relay team (with Michigan’s Phelps and Florida’s Lochte and Conor Dwyer) and 4x100m medley relay (with Phelps, Cal’s Adrian and Northwestern’s Matthew Grevers). Texas was good for Team USA in track relays, too with Bianca Knight (4x100m) and Sanya Richards-Ross (4x400m) running in gold-medal races. Richards-Ross added a gold in the 400m. 

Washington (10 medals)

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Gold: 2 | Silver: 6 | Bronze: 2

Notes: Washington is an outlier in that none of its 10 medalists participated in track or swimming. Instead, the Huskies medaled in rowing (one gold, four silvers, three bronze), cycling (one silver) and volleyball (one silver). Women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo, who earned a gold medal, was Washington’s most prominent Olympian.

Two schools (eight medals each)


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Gold: 4 | Silver: 1 | Bronze: 3

Notes: Swimmer Allison Schmitt matched Lochte’s five medals, tied for the second-most individual medals in the Olympics after Phelps. Schmitt claimed one more gold than Lochte, though, with gold in the 200m free, 4x100m medley relay and 4x200m free relay. Former Bulldog Amanda Weir, who earned a bronze as part of the 4x100m free relay team, ended her college days at USC, but did not compete for the Trojans.


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Gold: 6 | Silver: 1 | Bronze:

Notes: UCLA’s six gold medals came in three team sports: Men’s basketball (Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook), women’s soccer and women’s water polo.

Two schools (seven medals each)


Gold: 1 | Silver: 2 | Bronze: 4

Notes: The Ivy league makes an appearance as Princeton earned medals in rowing (one gold and two silver’s in women’s eight, one bronze in men’s four) and two bronzes in fencing.


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Gold: 3 | Silver: 1 | Bronze: 3

Notes: Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings won two of Tennessee’s gold medals in women’s basketball. Justin Gatlin earned two medals with a silver in the 4x100m relay and a bronze in the 100m.


♦ Eleven of 14 schools in the SEC claimed at least one medal. Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt were the only ones that did not. After Florida, Georgia and Tennessee listed above, the SEC programs with the most medals were: LSU (four), Arkansas and Auburn (three each), South Carolina and Texas A&M (two each), Alabama, Kentucky and Ole Miss (one each). 

♦ Eight of 12 schools in the Pac-12 claimed at least one medal. After USC, Cal, Stanford, Washington and UCLA listed above, Arizona followed with five medals, then Arizona State and Oregon with three each.

♦ Eight of 12 schools in the Big Ten claimed at least one medal. After Michigan’s 13, Penn State was a distant second with five, followed by Minnesota and Nebraska (four each), Northwestern and Purdue (three each) and Illinois and Indiana (two each).

♦ Connecticut claimed six gold medals — all in women’s basketball.

-David Fox 

Follow @DavidFox615