What's The Difference
Between NCAA Divisions I, II and III?
by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web
Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports
for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women)
with two team sports for each gender. Each playing season has to be
represented by each gender as well. There are contest and participant
minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. For sports
other than football and basketball, Division I schools must play 100%
of the minimum number of contests against Division I opponents -- anything
over the minimum number of games has to be 50% Div. I. Men's and
women's basketball teams have to play all but two games against
Div. I teams, for men, they must play 1/3 of all their contests in
the home arena.
Division I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their
athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for
each sport that a Division I school cannot exceed.
Division II institutions have to sponsor at least four sports for men and four
for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented
by each gender. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well
as scheduling criteria -- football and men's and women's basketball teams must play
at least 50% of their games against Div. II or I-A or I-AA opponents. For sports other
than football and basketball there are no scheduling requirements. There are not
attendance requirements for football, or arena game requirements for basketball.
There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. II school must not
exceed. Division II teams usually feature a number of local or in-state student-athletes.
Many Division II student-athletes pay for school through a combination of scholarship money,
grants, student loans and employment earnings. Division II athletics programs are financed
in the institution's budget like other academic departments on campus. Traditional rivalries
with regional institutions dominate schedules of many Division II athletics programs.
Division III institutions have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women,
with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender.
There are minimum contest and participant minimums for each sport. Division III athletics
features student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability
and athletic departments are staffed and funded like any other department in the university.
Division III athletics departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on
the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete's experience is of
paramount concern. Division III athletics encourages participation by maximizing the number
and variety of athletics opportunities available to students, placing primary emphasis on
regional in-season and conference competition.