Washington and Lee plays intercollegiate sports at the NCAA Division III level and is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), which has 14 members and four associate members and is the second-largest multi-sport Division III conference in the country.

Athletes are admitted to the university according to the same rigorous standards as all other students, and they are well integrated into the student body. W&L athletes have dominated the league's All-Academic team, with 320 individuals honored for the 2014-15 seasons. Twenty W&L athletes have won NCAA post-graduate scholarships in the past 12 years, and 39 have been so honored since 1970.

The university fields teams in 12 men's varsity sports and 12 women's varsity sports. The intercollegiate athletics program enjoys consistent success, having won the most conference championships (191) in the league's history. W&L has won the Dan Wooldridge Overall Champions Cup for overall athletic excellence 13 times in a row and 19 times overall.

Nearly 30 percent of undergraduates participate in intercollegiate sports, and about three-quarters of all students participate in intramural and club sport offerings. All undergraduates must satisfy a four-course physical education requirement. The university now boasts some of the finest outdoor recreation and athletics facilities in the country, is building a natatorium, and has plans for a new indoor athletics center.