Division III (D-III) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-III consists of athletic programs at colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization which regulates athletes of 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education or a secondary school.
A university is an institution of higher education and research which awards academic degrees in various academic disciplines. Universities typically provide undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
The NCAA's first split was into two divisions, the University and College Divisions, in 1956. The College Division was formed for smaller schools that did not have the resources of the major athletic programs across the country. The College Division split again in 1973 when the NCAA went to its current naming convention: Division I, Division II, and Division III. Division III schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships, while D-II schools can.
NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.
Division II is an intermediate-level division of competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It offers an alternative to both the larger and better-funded Division I and to the scholarship-free environment offered in Division III.
Division III is the NCAA's largest division with around 450 member institutions, which are 80% private and 20% public. The median undergraduate enrollment of D-III schools is about 2,750, although the range is from 418 to over 38,000. Approximately 40% of all NCAA student-athletes compete in D-III.
Division III institutions must 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 rules and participant minimums for each sport. Division III athletic programs are non-revenue-generating, extracurricular programs that are staffed and funded like any other university department. They feature student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability.Student-athletes cannot redshirt as freshmen, and schools may not use endowments or funds whose primary purpose is to benefit athletic programs.
Redshirt, in United States college athletics, is a delay or suspension of an athlete's participation to lengthen their period of eligibility. Typically, a student's athletic eligibility in a given sport is four seasons, like the four years of academic classes typically required to earn a bachelor's degree at an American college or university. However, in a redshirt year, student athletes may attend classes at the college or university, practice with an athletic team, and "suit up" for play – but they may compete in only a limited number of games,. Using this mechanism, a student athlete has at most five academic years to use the four years of eligibility, thus becoming what is termed a fifth-year senior.
Division 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." The ban on scholarships is strictly enforced. As an example of how seriously the NCAA takes this rule, 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. The two service academies that are D-III members, Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, do not violate the athletic scholarship ban because all students, whether or not they are varsity athletes, receive the same treatment, a full scholarship.
MacMurray College is a private college focused on professional degrees and located in Jacksonville, Illinois. Its enrollment in fall 2015 was 570.
The death penalty is the popular term for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's power to ban a school from competing in a sport for at least one year. It is the harshest penalty that an NCAA member school can receive.
The United States service academies, also known as the United States military academies, are federal academies for the undergraduate education and training of commissioned officers for the United States Armed Forces.
Another aspect that distinguishes Division III from the other NCAA divisions is that D-III institutions are specifically banned from using the National Letter of Intent, or any other pre-enrollment form that is not executed by other prospective students at the school. The NCAA provides for one exception—a standard, nonbinding celebratory signing form that may be signed by the student upon his or her acceptance of enrollment. However, this form cannot be signed at the campus of that college, and staff members of that college cannot be present at the signing.
The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a document used to indicate a student athlete's commitment to participating National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) colleges and universities in the United States. The NCAA Eligibility Center manages the daily operations of the NLI program while the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA) provides governance oversight of the program. Started in 1964 with seven conferences and eight independent institutions, the program now includes 676 Division I and II participating institutions. There are designated dates for different sports, and these dates are commonly referred to as "Signing Day".
An "all-sports" conference is defined here as one that sponsors both men's and women's basketball. Conferences that sponsor football are marked with an asterisk (*).
Ten D-III schools currently field Division I programs in one or two sports, one maximum for each gender.
Five 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 three division classifications in 1973, 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 all five schools choose to do so. These schools are allowed to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I men's and women's sports only.
Three formerly grandfathered schools moved completely to Division III. The State University of New York at Oneonta, which had been grandfathered in men's soccer, moved totally to Division III in 2006. Rutgers University–Newark, which had been grandfathered in men's volleyball, did the same in 2014.Hartwick College, which had been grandfathered in men's soccer and women's water polo, moved its men's soccer program to Division III in 2018 and dropped women's water polo entirely.
The other five schools choose to field Division I programs in one sport for men and/or 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 all of 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 football were forced to bring their football programs into Division I. This led directly to the creation of the Pioneer Football League, a non-scholarship football-only Division I FCS conference.
In August 2011, the NCAA decided to no longer allow individual programs to move to another division as a general policy. One exception was made in 2012, when RIT successfully argued for a one-time opportunity for colleges with a D-I men's team to add a women's team.
In addition to the D-III schools with teams that play as Division I members, many other D-III schools have teams that 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.
In 2003, concerned about the disparity of some D-III athletic programs and the focus on national championships, the Division III Presidents' Council, led by Middlebury College President John McCardell, proposed ending the athletic scholarship exemptions for D-I programs, eliminating redshirting, and limiting the length of the traditional and non-traditional seasons.At the January 2004 NCAA convention, an amendment allowed the exemption for grandfathered D-I athletic scholarships to remain in place, but the rest of the reforms passed.
There is a 32-team playoff system for a national championship, the Stagg Bowl, which has been held in Salem, Virginia, since 1993.
The Patriot League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising private institutions of higher education and two United States service academies based in the Northeastern United States. Outside the Ivy League, it is among the most selective group of higher education institutions in NCAA Division I and has a very high student-athlete graduation rate for both the NCAA graduation success rate and the federal graduation rate.
The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) is a college athletic conference comprising schools that compete in 15 sports. It has 220 member institutions in NCAA Divisions I, II, and III, ranging in location from Maine to South Carolina and west to Missouri. Most or all members belong to at least one other athletic conference.
An All-America team is a hypothetical American sports team composed of outstanding amateur players. These players are broadly considered by media and other relevant commentators as the best players in a particular sport, of a specific season, for each team position.
College athletics in the United States or college sports in the United States refers primarily to sports and athletic competition organized and funded by institutions of tertiary education.
In American college sports, NCAA Division I independent schools are four-year institutions that do not belong to a conference for a particular sport.
In college athletics in the United States, recruiting is the process in which college coaches add prospective student athletes to their roster each off-season. This process typically culminates in a coach extending an athletic scholarship offer to a player who is about to be a junior in high school or higher. There are instances, mostly at lower division universities, where no athletic scholarship can be awarded and where the player pays for tuition, housing, and textbook costs out of pocket or from financial aid. During this recruiting process, schools must comply with rules that define who may be involved in the recruiting process, when recruiting may occur and the conditions under which recruiting may be conducted. Recruiting rules seek, as much as possible, to control intrusions into the lives of prospective student-athletes. The NCAA defines recruiting as “any solicitation of prospective student-athletes or their parents by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution’s athletics interests for the purpose of securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program."
College ice hockey is played in Canada and the United States, though leagues exist outside North America.
College lacrosse is played by student-athletes at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. In both countries, men's field lacrosse and women's lacrosse are played at both the varsity and club levels. College lacrosse in Canada is sponsored by the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA) and Maritime University Field Lacrosse League (MUFLL), while in the United States, varsity men's and women's lacrosse is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and National Association of Intercolliegiate Athletics (NAIA). There are also university lacrosse programs in the United Kingdom sponsored by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) and programs in Japan.
The Denver Pioneers are the sports teams of the University of Denver (DU). They play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I, Denver is a member of The Summit League for men's and women's basketball, swimming and diving, men's and women's soccer, tennis and golf for both men and women, plus women's volleyball. Other DU teams play in various conferences in the sports that are not sponsored by The Summit. The men's ice hockey team is a charter member of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), which formed in 2011 with play beginning in 2013. The lacrosse teams for men and women are members of the Big East Conference; the men began Big East play in the 2013–14 school year, while the women left the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) after the 2016 lacrosse season. Men's and women's skiing compete in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association, while the women's gymnastics team became an affiliate of the Big 12 Conference starting with the 2015–16 season.
The Tufts Jumbos are the varsity intercollegiate athletic programs of Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts. The Jumbos compete in the NCAA Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Tufts does not offer athletic scholarships. Coed and women's sailing are the only Division I sports at the school.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology's intercollegiate sports teams, called the MIT Engineers, compete mostly in NCAA Division III. It has won 22 Team National Championships, 42 Individual National Championships. MIT is the all-time Division III leader in producing Academic All-Americas (302) and rank second across all NCAA Divisions. MIT Athletes won 13 Elite 90 awards and ranks first among NCAA Division III programs, and third among all divisions. Most of the school's sports compete in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), with sports not sponsored by the NEWMAC housed in several other conferences. Men's volleyball competes in the single-sport United Volleyball Conference. One MIT sport, women's rowing, competes in Division I in the Eastern Association of Women's Rowing Colleges (EAWRC). Men's water polo, a sport in which the NCAA holds a single national championship for all three of its divisions, competes in the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) alongside Division I and Division II members. Three sports compete outside NCAA governance: men's rowing competes in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC), sailing in the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association of ICSA and squash in the College Squash Association. In April 2009, budget cuts led to MIT's eliminating eight of its 41 sports, including the mixed men's and women's teams in alpine skiing and pistol; separate teams for men and women in ice hockey and gymnastics; and men's programs in golf and wrestling.
The LIU Post Pioneers are the athletic teams that represent the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, located in Brookville, New York, in NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports. The Pioneers compete as members of the East Coast Conference for most sports; the football team is an affiliate of the Northeast-10 Conference. LIU Post has been a member of the ECC since 1989, when the league was established as the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference.