I am deciding whether to apply as an athlete or a regular student. I don’t plan on playing my sport professionally, but it could help me get into a better school. Is it possible to drop the sport without losing my place at the university?
If you don’t plan to play the sport professionally, you can still get in, but you better be playing well. The reason you are accepted over other people is that of your athletic talents. Usually, if you are not motivated to aim to play that well it is difficult for the coach to recruit you in the first place.
However, if you do choose to drop out of the team while you are at the university, you will still stay in the university given your academics during that time is good enough.