Differences between NCAA College Divisions

in Sports by
“Going through my college search, I realized that I didn’t want to be limited academically or athletically and I realized that playing Division 3 would give me the balance I was looking for. My recruiting process took place during Covid, so my class had a lot of difficulty reaching out to coaches and being able to go to camps and show coaches what we can do. I was lucky enough to be of interest to the head softball coach at Williams at a time where it was tough to reach out to anyone. I had lost hope for my recruiting because of the many opportunities we had lost because of covid, but being able to be a prospect at a school as great as Williams helped boost my confidence and reassured me of my athletic and academic abilities,” senior Sidney Miller said. (Photo/Sidney Miller)

Continuing their sport in college is a dream for many athletes, but there are various levels at which these athletes can perform that some might not be aware of. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) separates colleges by their level and resources to create a system where competitors are given equal opportunity by competing against those with similar resources. There are three divisions:

NCAA Division I

Division I includes the largest universities and colleges (358), and, on average, is the strongest athletically. Due to their size, these colleges are able to offer the best packages, allowing for the most scholarship money with the exception of the Ivy League schools. The majority of professional athletes participate in this division, which contains all of the major sports conferences including the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12 and ACC. These organizations within Division I are so lucrative it is possible for a team, such as the Texas A&M football team, to be valued at $147 million

NCAA Division II

Smaller universities are in this program, with this division having the least number of member schools in total with 306. While they still offer scholarships, there are fewer available and partial are more common than full, emphasized by a lower budget and the regional competitions compared to Division I’s national competitions. 

NCAA Division III

As the largest of all NCAA divisions, these schools (438) are, on average, the smallest in student enrollment, private, and have the least commitment for their athletes, with few competitions, less travel and shorter practice hours. Unlike Division I, Division III cannot award athletic scholarships to its athletes, forcing them to use other methods like financial aid to substantiate the cost. Colleges within this division focus less on profit and spectators, and more on the individual athletes.

Eva, now a senior at American Heritage School, returns to staff as Online Editor-in-Chief and Social Media Correspondent. She enjoys all things literature and mathematics, spending most of her time with her nose in a book or doing math problems. She is an active participant in many school clubs, as president of Black Student Union and Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMs) and vice president of Key Club, armed with a passion for helping others. When she is not studying or promoting the wonderful articles on iPatriotPost, she is at swim practice, volunteering within her community or watching Netflix. She looks forward to making her final year in iPatriotPost as amazing as possible.