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Division III (or DIII) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the United States. The division consists of colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletically related financial aid (athletic scholarships) to their student-athletes.
As explained in more detail in the article about NCAA Division II, the NCAA's first split was into two divisions. The former College Division formed because many NCAA member schools wanted an alternative to the expensive nature of what is now Division I. Division III formed in 1973, in a split of the College Division. The former College Division members that chose to offer athletic scholarships or to remain in a division with those who did became Division II, while members that did not became Division III.
There are 449 member institutions (both full and provisional), making it the largest of the three divisions in the NCAA.
D-III schools range in size from fewer than 500 to over 20,000 students. D-III schools compete in athletics as a non-revenue-making, extracurricular activity for students; hence, they may not offer athletic scholarships, they may not redshirt freshmen, and they may not use endowments or funds whose primary purpose is to benefit athletic programs. Also, under NCAA rules, D-III schools "shall not award financial aid to any student on the basis of athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance". Financial aid given to athletes must be awarded under the same procedures as for the general student body, and the proportion of total financial aid given to athletes "shall be closely equivalent to the percentage of student-athletes within the student body." As an example of how seriously the NCAA takes the scholarship ban, in 2005 MacMurray College became only the fifth school slapped with a "death penalty" after its men's tennis program gave grants to foreign-born players.
All Division III schools must field athletes in at least ten sports, with men's and women's competition in a given sport counting as two different sports. In 2012, coeducational schools with more than 1,000 undergraduates must field athletes in at least twelve sports, with at least six all-female teams and at least six teams that are either all-male or mixed-sex. Coeducational schools with fewer than 1,000 undergraduates must still field at least five sports in each category. Single-sex schools need only field five or six sports, depending on undergraduate enrollment. For all schools regardless of enrollment, at least three sports for each sex must be team sports.
* Conference sponsors football
Twelve D-III schools currently field Division I programs in one or two sports (one maximum for each sex).
Seven of them are grandfathered schools that have traditionally competed at the highest level of a particular men's sport prior to the institution of the Division classifications in 1971 (a decade before the NCAA governed women's sports). Presumably due to Title IX considerations, grandfathered schools are also allowed to field one women's sport in Division I, and six of the seven schools choose to do so. These schools are allowed to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I men's and women's sports to remain competitive with their opponents.
(State University of New York at Oneonta was previously grandfathered in men's soccer but moved totally to Division III in 2006.)
The other five schools choose to field Division I programs in one sport for men and optionally one sport for women, but they are not grandfathered and thus are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships. Academic-based and need-based financial aid is still available, as is the case for Division III.
In addition, Lawrence University was formerly a non-grandfathered program in fencing, but the NCAA no longer conducts a separate Division I fencing championship. Lawrence continues to field a fencing team, but that team is now considered Division III (see below).
Football and basketball may not be grandfathered Division I programs because their revenue-enhancing potential would give them an unfair advantage over other Division III schools. In 1992, several Division I schools playing Division III in football, most notably Georgetown University, were forced to make their football programs Division I.
In August 2007, the NCAA instituted a moratorium on all division moves, including moves of individual programs. That moratorium expired in August 2011, but the NCAA has indicated they will no longer allow individual program moves to another division, as a general policy (though at least one exception has been made in women's ice hockey due to the lack of Division II competition in that sport).
In addition to the D-III schools that play as Division I members, MIT and at least 27 other D-III schools compete alongside D-I and D-II members in sports that the NCAA does not split into divisions; teams in these sports are not counted as playing in a different division from the rest of the athletic program. D-III members cannot award scholarships in these sports.
NCAA bowling is currently a women-only sport.
The NCAA team championship is a combined men's and women's event, with only one team champion crowned. Most NCAA fencing schools have coeducational teams; a few schools field only a women's team.
Only 17 NCAA members now sponsor men's gymnastics as a varsity sport; as a result, the NCAA conducts a single team championship for all divisions. The only non-Division I school among the 17 is a Division III member.
Although the NCAA officially classifies rifle as a men's sport, competition is fully coeducational. Schools may field single-sex or coed teams, and are also allowed to field more than one team (either two single-sex teams, or one single-sex and one coed team).
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The portion of college athletics most familiar to the American general public is NCAA Division I, and specifically only the portion of Division I that generates enough interest to get extensive television coverage. Public awareness of the other NCAA Divisions is often limited, so it is natural for interested people to want to compare and contrast them with the most familiar Division as a means to learn about them. The comparisons made here, however, are with Division I as a whole, not just the portion that obtains most media coverage and commercial support.
Public perceptions of college athletics are often guided by sports media, who pay limited attention to the portion of college athletics with little commercial interest. While it is common for sports media to refer to the NCAA Divisions using terms such as "level," this is a generalization of dubious value. The criteria for comparing performances by student athletes can vary from person to person. To illustrate this point, take two 10,000 meter collegiate track runners. One can run the distance in under 34 minutes averaging 5 min 25 sec/mile, trains at about 75–80 miles per week, while spending about ten hours per week outside of class involved in studies. The other can run the distance in under 35 minutes averaging 5 min 35 sec/mile, trains at about 65 miles per week, while spending about 20 or more hours per week outside of class involved in studies. Both race times are in the realm of any NCAA affiliation. The larger training load is more typical of Division I, the larger study load more typical of Division III—but which feat is considered more impressive might vary among individuals.
Both Divisions present unique challenges. Some Division III athletes would not earn a spot on most Division I rosters, but there are also Division I athletes who would be unable to keep up with the academic demands of many Division III programs and still train enough to remain competitive. The numeric designations of the Divisions refer to chronological order of origin, and the differences between the Divisions are related mostly to finances and academic priorities.
Four-year colleges and universities that seek a large national affiliation can choose to affiliate with the NCAA or with another, separate collegiate athletic association, the NAIA. The NAIA does have some history of dividing up the postseason national tournaments based on enrollment, but that is the extent of it. The NCAA Divisions are unique in that they are like partitions, where teams in each Division compete primarily with other schools in the same Division. Schools in the NCAA and the NAIA can and do compete with each other in all sports, and dual membership does exist.
NCAA regulations require signatories to field so many sports programs that a substantial investment in athletics by any member college or university is a must. In any NCAA Division, most schools hire coaches whose job is to coach full-time. They hire people who specialize in developing talent. Recruiting processes are similar for all three NCAA Divisions: most members of any varsity team were successful high school athletes who were contacted by a coach or other athletic department staff to come to their particular college to continue playing the sport on the college's varsity team. Further, college athletes are people who devote long hours to practice for their sports. Such a commitment is prone to produce exceptional prowess in those sports compared to athletes in general. When coaching staffs that specialize in developing talent full-time are paired with athletes who have devoted and do devote many hours to practice and training for their sports, the result is a high level of athletics, regardless of affiliation.
As noted in the article about NCAA Division II, the former College Division formed because many NCAA member schools wanted an alternative to the expensive nature of Division I. College Division athletic programs no longer had to generate and spend a lot of money to have a strong chance at a national postseason tournament. Later, as noted above, the College Division split between schools that wanted to offer athletics-based financial aid and schools that did not. The schools that wanted to offer athletics-based financial aid, or pursue the same postseason tournaments with those who did, became Division II. Those that wanted to do neither became Division III.
The rationale behind rejection of athletics-based financial aid is based on a particular philosophy of intercollegiate athletics. There were, and are, leaders in higher education who feel that once financial aid specific to athletes is allowed, it is a financial commitment that leads the school in directions not always concordant with strict academic priorities. Historically, athletics-based financial aid has generally been offered to entice athletes to come to the college and help their teams win. This presents the possibility of temptation to try to make the most on that investment at the expense of academics. Also, the nature of such financial aid means that the student is there to perform well athletically for the school. This has potential to lead to two student bodies: the general student population who are expected to have their studies as their college priorities, and the athletes whose college priorities are athletic performance. Division III personnel in general want to avoid such situations in their institutions. They want academics to be the college priorities of all students enrolled at their colleges, and rejection of athletics-based financial aid is a means to that end.
Also shunned in the Division III philosophy is the concept of special institutional academic support specifically for athletes. This can include tutors, facilities, course arrangements, and staff who work with faculty to facilitate the athletes' experiences. The Division III philosophy is that student athletes should pursue their academic degrees on the same general conditions as all other students. Division III athletes are known to put much more emphasis on their academic experience. This is sometimes voluntary, and sometimes not; coaching staffs are generally expected by college administrators to aggressively deal with any athlete showing inadequate academic performance or motivation, up to and inclusive of ejection from teams. Division III athletes are expected to be committed students, who receive no special academic assistance specifically for athletes, and who pursue college degrees under the same general conditions as any other students.
This is not to say, of course, that no athletics programs in NCAA Division I or NCAA Division II place a high priority on athletes' academic performances, or no Division III programs that demand little or nothing more than NCAA academic eligibility minimums. However, a universal high priority on academics remains the foundation and essence of NCAA Division III.
To ensure the newer divisions and Division I did not have a similar relationship to professional baseball's minor leagues and major leagues, the NCAA has strict regulations. It is not at all uncommon for an athlete in the newer divisions to be capable of contributing to a Division I program; some could do so at the beginnings of their college careers, others after one or more seasons of training and competition. The NCAA has regulations in place to deter transfers for athletic purposes. Coaching staffs are not permitted to recruit athletes from other four-year colleges and universities; any pursuit of a transfer must be initiated by the athlete. Athletes who compete for one program and then transfer to a Division I school to compete in the same sport on its team are penalized. Most student athletes do not transfer, and remain on track to graduate with a degree from a single college or university.
With the creation of new NCAA Divisions, not every school was willing to switch even when a newer Division might be a better match with the nature of its athletic program. For instance, some NCAA Division I programs do not offer athletics-based financial aid, making them akin to Division III schools. Others invest money in their athletics programs at quantities similar to what is typical for Division II. However, since what was originally called the University Division, now called Division I, holds more prestige and obtains more publicity in athletics, some college sports programs have remained in Division I even when they hold strong resemblance to programs in another Division.
The causes for the NCAA Divisions mean that they all differ in how they invest in their athletic programs. These differences affect recruiting of high school and other prospects. Division I programs typically have more money and more freedom to offer athletics-based financial aid to prospective athletes. They can offer more financial aid money to top prospects, offer to more top prospects, and appeal to the notoriety that their program receives as a Division I program. Division II programs offer less athletics-based money and must limit the quantity of beneficiaries per NCAA regulations for Division II. Division III programs do appeal to some top prospects on the basis of their schools' academic reputations and the priority placed on studies, but they do not offer athletics-based financial aid, and further, commonly have academic demands that deter many top prospects.
The causes for the NCAA Divisions also mean differences in how they invest in the student athletes of their athletic programs. Programs in Divisions that allow athletics-based financial aid generally utilize that allowance. In those cases, a student athlete's financial aid is tied directly to athletic performance and obligations to maximize athletic prowess and minimize distractions unrelated to sports. The institution often cooperates with the athletic department in these aims. The student athlete is quite often viewed primarily as an asset of the athletic program, and investments of time, energy, and resources are focused on the athletic aspect of the student athlete. The student athlete must bear in mind that failure to maintain adequate athletic prowess, or to fulfill obligations placed by coaches to maximize athletic development, or to refrain from activities deemed distracting to athletic development, could result in a withdrawal of financial aid. In NCAA Division III, student athletes are not supposed to have financial aid connected to athletics, and are simply students of their institution who participate in varsity athletics as one extracurricular activity among other extracurricular activities available to the general student body. The institution's investment in student athletes is primarily as students, and investments of time, energy and resources are focused on the student as a whole person.
Student athletes are expected to pursue their educations under the same general conditions as other students. This presents challenges to student athletes that are often mitigated in other NCAA Divisions. The need to meet these challenges to obtain a degree, maintain academic performance satisfactory to coaching staffs, and still remain competitive at the NCAA/NAIA level is present in the minds of Division III athletic staff and athletes. The priorities and related culture of Division III are quite different from the other two Divisions.
These differences in priorities and related culture are also reflected by recent trends in the early 2000s in Division II that are not reflected in Division III. In the early 2000s, Division II has been shrinking because of Division II schools moving to Division I. When authorities at these former Division II programs thought they could be competitive in Division I, they made the move. Similar moves from Division III are less common, due to less desire for such moves: it is quite common for Division III athletic leaderships, donors, and alumni to feel that leaving Division III would not be in the best interests of their academic ideals, and would therefore compromise the quality of the athletics program.
Because of the differences in priorities and culture of Division III versus Division I and II, the reasons a prospective student athlete would choose a Division III college are different from what might motivate another prospect to choose a college with a different affiliation. For student athletes seeking athletics-based financial aid, the prospect would be likely to give highest consideration to which schools offer the most. If the prospect can get full financial support from a Division I school's athletic department, the prospect is likely to take it. A prospect who cannot get as much athletics-based financial aid in Division I might opt for what is offered from a Division II school's athletic department. Top prospects interested in such financial aid might consider only Division I schools, and other such prospects might consider both Division II and Division I. In Division III, such financial aid is prohibited; prospects considering Division III have other priorities. While some Division I and II coaches do encourage athletes to work hard in athletics, this is not guaranteed, and a threat of withdrawal of financial support is a possibility if coaches feel that an athlete is making "unnecessary" academic efforts that conflict with athletic development. Prospective student athletes who are uncomfortable with that possibility are prone to seriously consider Division III. Prospective student athletes of a very wide range of athletic abilities with educational goals similar to the priorities of Division III might consider schools of all three affiliations.
In all three NCAA Divisions, teams are made primarily or entirely of recruits from high school programs or other youth competition programs. These recruits have devoted many long hours to practice in their sports, and have exceptional aptitude in their sports. Whether a college athletics programs gets the very best of high level athletes or the least of high level athletes still means the school gets high level athletes, regardless of NCAA Division. The quality of athlete a recruit or other new team member develops into depends primarily on natural potential, quality of training and coaching, and work ethic. College teams are made primarily or entirely of former recruits who have devoted much time and effort to their sports, had and have exceptional aptitude in those sports, and are getting even better, regardless of affiliation.
Further, college athletes are expected to be enrolled students in classes at that school. Whether a college or university affiliates with Division I, II or III, the athletes on those teams are supposed to be involved in academic studies at their schools. The amount the athlete is expected to expend in academic pursuits varies, and the ratio of institutional support to individual effort varies, but every athlete is supposed to be enrolled in college classes and making some level of academic progress.
Division III institutions do not have the same access to scholarship money when it comes to the recruiting process. Division III sports offer non-athletic financial aid packages rather than athletically-based support. In addition (as noted previously), the NCAA prohibits Division III schools from using any athletically-related factor in determining financial aid awards, and also requires that the amount of aid awarded to athletes at a Division III school be closely proportional to the percentage of athletes in the student body. Division I sports teams are able to provide aid more directly through athletic based-scholarships. Division III schools, barred from using athletics as an aid criterion, have more choice in how they allocate their funds. Not only is there more financial support that is specifically given to Division I athletes, but Division I teams and facilities receive more funding from the NCAA. The NCAA puts substantially more money towards Division I programs than it does Division III. Sixty percent of all NCAA revenue is given directly to Division I institutions alone. From 2009–2010, $433 million made up the NCAA's Division I expenses. Only about three percent of the NCAA’s spending goes towards Division III programs. The differences in financial support has been a major cause in further differences between both divisions.
NCAA regulations in competition and time commitment have made Division III athletics seem less strenuous and binding when compared to Division I athletics. Each sport is subject to different regulations, but when comparing the same sports in Division I and Division III competition, there are differences. For example, Division III baseball limits the number of games to 40 per season while Division I baseball sets the limit at 56 games per season. According to a 2008 NCAA survey, participants admitted devoting more time to athletics than they did towards academic responsibilities. This survey found that the average "major" Division I athlete devotes 44.8 hours a week to athletic responsibilities in addition to a little less than 40 hours a week set aside for academic life, and about two out of every three considered themselves athletes more than students. This difference in time commitment can also be seen in the average number of classes missed. Twenty-one percent of Division I baseball players miss more than three classes per week compared to twelve percent of Division III baseball players. This pattern is similar in other sports as well according to the 2011 NCAA survey.
The primary difference between Division III and the other Divisions is that athletics-based financial aid is prohibited in Division III. In Division I, athletics-based financial aid can keep a student athlete competing even if the athlete's enthusiasm declines. In Division III, such financial aid is prohibited; student athletes compete entirely per their own volition. In Division I, it is common to provide special academic support for athletes to make school easier for them. This can include tutors, facilities, staff who work with faculty to facilitate the athletes' experiences, and/or athletics department advising on course selections. While some Division I coaches do encourage athletes to work hard in athletics, this is not guaranteed, and a threat of withdrawal of financial support is a possibility if coaches feel that an athlete is making "unnecessary" academic efforts that conflict with athletic development. In Division III, athletes are expected to attend to academic responsibilities under the same conditions as the general student body, and are generally expected to be responsible students whose academic performance reflects well on the athletics program. The hours spent in training and competition use time that other students spend on study. This puts the athlete at an academic disadvantage. This means athletics actually makes school more difficult for Division III athletes, rather than easier.
The publicity given to Division I and to Division III differs. Sports media focuses almost exclusively on Division I, and pay scant attention to any other portions of college athletics. Financial aid differences, academic conditions, and publicity all affect recruiting. Division I schools tend to get the top prospects. Some prospects sought by Division I programs choose a Division III program for academic/educational or other reasons, but they are exceptions to the norm. Further, NCAA Division III teams commonly do not make cuts: the coaches give a chance to whomever is willing to do the work, and the aspiring athlete either quits or improves. Because of these considerations, there is a slight but noticeable difference in athletic prowess between the average Division I and the average Division III athlete.
It is in some ways difficult to gauge the difference in athletic performance. In racing sports, such as cross country and track & field, it is simple because all one has to do is look at the individual and team standings. In sports where only two teams play each other, it is more difficult. Massey Ratings does attempt to rank college teams across NCAA Divisions. As of November 19, 2013, NCAA Division III had 448 members, and the Massey Ratings had over 100 Division III men's basketball teams ranked among Division I teams. Women's basketball had 88 Division III teams ranked among Division I teams. Women's tennis had over 170 Division III teams ranked among Division I teams. Women's soccer had over 300 Division III teams ranked among Division I teams. Women's volleyball had over 300 Division III teams ranked among Division I teams. These are the fall sports where only two teams play each other at a time, and where over 300 members of each Division field teams. In all of these rankings, the top teams were Division I teams. While these rankings are in constant states of flux as the seasons progress, they are typical of the substantial overlap between the Divisions, with the top teams being Division I teams.
A variety of factors complicate comparisons between Division I and Division III in sports where only two teams play each other at a time. These include the relative rarity of such competitions, as well as the fact that often the only thing publicized is who won, not the actual competition. Further, both programs have to consent to such competitions. Naturally, schools are more prone to use limited schedule slots to play against teams in their own NCAA Division and mostly to members of their own conference. There are Division III personnel who prefer an aloofness from schools that provide athletics-based financial aid, and have an aversion to any competition in such sports outside NCAA Division III on that principle. Division I programs invest money in winning, and scheduling is done on the basis of conference obligations and likelihood of winning; exceptions might be made for financial incentive, desired publicity, and/or a challenge to catalyze improvement. Traditionally, prejudices have also discouraged Division I teams from scheduling Division III teams in such sports during the regular season, and not all conferences allow it. In recent years, exhibition games have allowed Division I teams to schedule Division III teams before the regular season without it counting in some sports, fostering a more favorable environment for such competitions, and allowing a greater understanding of the level of Division III teams by Division I personnel. Competitions between Division III programs and comparatively obscure Division I teams remain rarely seen in these sports, but it is becoming more common to see such competitions during both the preseason and regular season involving a well-known program with greater notoriety than many other Division I programs.
In sports where only two teams compete at a time, the portion of Division I gets the most media coverage does have the occasional competition with more obscure Division I programs. These competitions are more common than versus Division III programs. In general, the more obscure program is likely to lose; a typical team in an obscure Division I conference, Division II or III, or the NAIA is unlikely to beat a team from well-publicized portions of Division I. The contest might be a blowout from start to finish, but there are also scenarios where the teams play on fairly even terms for substantial portions of the contest. When Division III teams play Division I teams, the experience for the Division III team typically varies between
1) being blown out from start to finish,
2) being blown out at the start, then bringing the margin down significantly, and playing about evenly for much of the game before eventually losing,
3) staying close and/or leading for much of the game before eventually losing,
4) occasionally winning.
A microcosm from men's basketball could be considered. In November 2012, an unranked Division III team played a ranked Division I team, was down as much as 17 points in the first half, cut the lead to fluctuate between 8 and 17 points, and was only down 10 points at halftime — then cut the lead to single digits again after halftime before eventually losing. The ranked Division I team had a larger halftime lead against another ranked Division I team the week before, later had a halftime lead of 31 points against another Division I team, and went on to beat the #1 team in Division I. The next month, another Division III team played against another Division I team and lead with 12 minutes remaining before eventually losing. In regards to this second Division I team that season, it defeated another Division I team by a larger margin, and that team beat several other Division I teams by 20+ points, one of which had multiple victories of 20+ points over other Division I teams. Other Division I teams beat/beatable by a wide margin by either of these two Division I teams could have likely been defeated by one or both of these two Division III teams or others roughly equal to or superior to them. Occasionally, a Division III team does come out on top at the end, but more often than not, the game follows one of #1-3.
The prior paragraph referenced a game from December 2012, and those two teams played again on November 23, 2013. This time, the Division III team won. The same month, a Division II played both a Division I team and a Division III team, which is an unusual situation. They beat the Division III team by four points and the Division I team by two points. A few years prior, a Division III team beat another Division I school and that team ended the season with a 16-16 record, beating a Division II opponent and being 15-15 among Division I opponents.
In sports where only two teams play each other, there is a strong likelihood of competitiveness due to the overlap in abilities. The accounts above illustrate that overlap, which may help explain why competitions between obscure Division I programs and perennially above-average Division III programs are not common. The accounts described above should not, however, overshadow the fact that very large margins of victory often occur when Division I teams from well-publicized portions of Division I compete against mediocre or below-average Division III teams.
An indirect way to compare NCAA Division I and NCAA Division III in sports where only two teams compete with each other at a time is to consider the NAIA, a separate intercollegiate athletics association that allows athletics-based financial aid. Competitions with NCAA Division I programs versus NAIA programs are more common in such sports than versus NCAA Division III programs. NCAA Division III programs compete more frequently with NAIA programs than with NCAA Division I programs. NCAA Division III victories against NAIA programs are a fairly common occurrence. NAIA victories against NCAA Division I programs do happen in these sports but they are not common. Like NCAA Division III programs against Division I programs in these sports, there is the uncommon victory, but otherwise the competition usually follows one of #1-3 in the prior paragraph.
In sports where only two teams play each other, most Division I teams do not have a single Division III team on their schedules, and most Division III teams do not have a single Division I team on their schedules.
In racing sports, sports teams usually compete against more than one team at a time. Further, programs have less control over whom they compete against. They can control who comes to competitions they host, and they can control which competitions they travel to, but they have little to no influence on what other teams come to competitions that others host. These factors cause teams from each Division to compete with more teams both in their Division and in other Divisions.
It is common in racing sports, such as cross country and track and field, to see Division III teams compete with Division I teams, especially at large meets. Because of the common competition across Divisions in such sports, it is common to see Division III teams beat Division I teams in these sports. It is even more common for the same among individual competitors. The overlap that can be inferred in other sports is clear in these sports.
In most such competitions, however, most teams towards the top of the team standings are Division I teams. The average Division III racing sport competitor who competes with Division I teams on a regular basis beats Division I competitors on a regular basis. In most such competitions, however, the median Division I competitor beats the median Division III competitor.
Each Division has a continuum of athletes' prowesses in their sports. The observations above indicate there is substantial overlap between both continua. The overlap is obvious when Division I and Division III teams compete with each other in racing sports. For sports where only two teams compete against each other at a time, this overlap is indicated by the fact that in a sizable fraction of these games, the Division I team must keep its best players in for most of the competition, lest the Division III team's best players overtake the Division I team's bench/second-string players. Among the athletes in each Division there is substantial overlap in prowess, but ultimately the norm is noticeably higher in Division I.
Academically, Division I and Division III have different priorities. In Division I, typically, the athlete is expected to focus on prime athletic preparedness, and perform adequately in academics to meet NCAA academic eligibility minimums. Special support sponsored by the school or athletic department exclusively for athletes is a common practice. This can include such things as tutoring provided exclusively for athletes, facilities, staff to work with faculty to facilitate the athlete's experience, and/or recommended courses. In Division III, athletes are expected to pursue their educations under the same general conditions as other students. Division III athletes are known to put much more emphasis on their academic experience. Alumni of Division III colleges often attach a certain amount of prestige to their degrees, and expect current administrations to protect that prestige by rejecting special treatment for athletes, and holding athletes to the same academic conditions as the general student body. College authorities in Division III have chosen that affiliation in general because they do not want conflicts between strict academic priorities and sports competitiveness. Those authorities expect coaching staffs to support those academic priorities. Simply maintaining NCAA academic eligibility minimums is typically not adequate to satisfy expectations Division III coaching staffs place on their athletes. In general, Division III athletes are expected to have solid academic performance to support a positive image of their program/s.
Ultimately, college athletes are college athletes, and in general, excel in their sports. College athletes are also students of their respective schools. There is significant overlap between the Divisions among athletes in both prowess in their sports and in academic achievement. The norm for athletic performance, however, is slightly but noticeably higher in Division I. The academic expectations, as a norm, are higher in Division III.
The differences in division requirements and financial regulation have led to some distinct differences in student life. Participation in school activities outside of intercollegiate athletics is more common in Division III athletes, and they are more likely to see themselves as part of their college's community. Division III athletes are also known to put much more emphasis on their academic experience, including participation in on-campus research and extra-curricular activities. Not only is there more involvement, but Division III Athletes have proven more successful in time management compared to non-athletes at the same institution. There are also differences in the student-athlete social experience. Division I athletes are more likely to have friends who are exclusively part of their respective team.
Division III athletes are not considered to have athletic obligations to their college or university, so they do not feel their prospects of an education depend on athletic performance. Because athletics-based financial aid is prohibited, an athlete's financial support cannot be withdrawn for not performing as well as a teammate. This allows a less stressful approach to the sport. Further, because a student's financial aid is not tied to any athletics obligation, an athlete is never told to not declare a particular major or refrain from any course by an athletics staff member who can withdraw financial support from the athlete. This frees the athlete to make the most of the educational opportunities afforded by the college or university.
Division III athletes in general must live a disciplined lifestyle to be successful, because they must undergo rigorous training to compete at the level expected of NCAA/NAIA athletes, and they must attend to their academic responsibilities on the same terms as other students. College administrators who place affiliation with Division III do so by choice, and because of that, expect a priority placed upon colleges as educational institutions. Coaches are expected to support the high priority placed on academics, and those expectations are reflected onto athletes. The NCAA requires a C grade point average to remain eligible, but it is common for Division III programs to consider this unsatisfactory for their athletes. Coaches commonly conduct study tables and other team events to ensure athletes see their athletic ventures as tied to their academic responsibilities. There are not supposed to be course sections specifically for athletes, nor are there supposed to be athletic tutors nor similar special academic support provided by the institution. Athletes are expected to pursue their degrees under the same conditions as other students. Keeping up with the demands of rigorous training and with expectations of solid academic performance present a dual challenge for Division III athletes, which calls for a disciplined approach to college life.
Division III alumni are often proud of their college experiences, and of what is commonly referred to as "the Division III culture" and/or "the Division III philosophy." They commonly take pride in having met the dual challenge of athletic performance at a high level and adhering to strong academic expectations as they earned their degrees.
In 2003, concerned about the direction of the Division, the Division III Presidents' Council, led by Middlebury College President John McCardell, limited the length of the traditional and non-traditional seasons, eliminated redshirting, and redefined a season of participation. The membership approved all these changes by a majority vote.
An additional proposal that would have eliminated the ability of the institutions listed above to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I sports was rejected, though rules limiting the exception to only those schools currently offering D-I programs were approved. These actions took place at the January 2004 NCAA Convention.
Division III Football started in 1973. Division III football programs cannot give any athletic scholarships. As a result, athletes are driven by their love of the game instead of being motivated by money, media attention, and/or other outside influences. Like the rest of the NCAA and NAIA, it is represents a high level of football. There is a playoff system for a National Championship, the Stagg Bowl, which has been held in Salem, Virginia since 1993. For a complete list of Division III football programs and conferences see List of NCAA Division III football programs.
In 2013, a Division III team played against a Division I team that was #2 in its conference, and had beaten other Division I teams by as many as 60 points. The Division III team was winning at halftime but lost by three points at the end. However, games between Division III teams and Division I teams are even less common than in other sports where two teams play against each other. Division I teams can entice very sizable men to play on the defensive and offensive lines via lucrative financial aid packages, and as football is a contact sport, huge gaps in size could pose safety hazards. A very substantial portion of Division I does not field football at all, as is the case for Division III, meaning fewer teams to play each other than in other sports. Competitions between Division I and Division III in football are rare. The more well-financed and well-publicized portion of Division I, Division I FBS, is heavily deterred from playing non-Division I teams because games outside of Division I do not count for bowl eligibility. Because roughly one half of Division I is in the FBS subdivision, about half of Division I is deterred from playing against Division II and Division III. Division I FBS and FCS do compete with each other, and the first week of the 2013 season presented a record eight victories of FCS teams over FBS teams. Division I teams are more likely to schedule teams in the NAIA than with Division III. Competitions with NAIA schools are fairly common in both NCAA Division III and Division II. In 2013, two NAIA teams beat two NCAA Division I FCS on the same day, and two weeks later the #10 team in NCAA Division III beat the #2 team in the NAIA. Like in all other sports, NCAA Division III's continuum overlaps with the continua of Division II, Division I, and the NAIA.
|Year Drafted||Name||Position||College Attended||Team Drafted By||Round and Number Drafted|
|2011||Cecil Shorts||WR||Mount Union||Jaguars||4-114|
|2008||Andy Studebaker||DE/LB||Wheaton (Ill.)||Eagles||6-203|
|2008||Pierre Garcon||WR||Mount Union||Colts||6-205|
|2003||Ryan Hoag||WR||Gustavus Adolphus||Raiders||7-262|
|1999||Clint Kriewaldt||LB||UW-Stevens Point||Lions||6-177|
|1992||Barry Rose||WR||UW-Stevens Point||Bills||10-279|
|1991||Pete Lucas||OL||UW-Stevens Point||Falcons||10-258|
|1991||Larry Wanke||QB||John Carroll||Giants||12-334|
Buffalo: Fred Jackson, RB, Coe
Indianapolis: Jerrell Freeman, LB, Mary Hardin-Baylor
Jacksonville: Cecil Shorts III, WR/RET, Mount Union
Kansas City: Andy Studebaker, LB, Wheaton
Miami: Jason Trusnik, LB, Ohio Northern; Kyle Miller, TE/S, Mount Union
Philadelphia: Nate Menkin, OL, Mary Hardin-Baylor
Seattle: Steven Hauschka, K, Middlebury
Tennessee: Mike Preston, WR, Heidelberg
Washington: London Fletcher, LB, John Carroll; Pierre Garcon, WR/RET, Mount Union
Detroit: Chris Greenwood, CB, Albion
Chicago: Matt Blanchard, QB, UW-Whitewater (was released during the season)
Philadelphia: Derek Carrier, TE, Beloit
Kansas City: Alex Tanney, QB, Monmouth
1997 - Greensboro
1998 - Mary Hardin-Baylor
1999 - Mount Ida
2000 - Averett, East Texas Baptist, Louisiana College, Rockford, Shenandoah, Wisconsin Lutheran
2001 - Christopher Newport, Utica
2002 - No new programs
2003 - Endicott, Huntingdon, Husson
2004 - North Carolina Wesleyan
2005 - Becker
2006 - LaGrange, SUNY-Maritime
2007 - St. Vincent, Birmingham-Southern
2008 - St. Scholastica
2009 - Anna Maria, Castleton State
2010 - Pacific (OR)
2011 - Presentation, Stevenson
2012 - Misericordia
2013 - Hendrix, Berry, Southwestern
2014 - George Fox
(Finlandia is expected to launch football in the fall of 2015. Texas-Tyler is on the watch list but it is unknown when they will field a football team)