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Differences in Divisions?

What the differences between NCAA D1, D2 and D3 institutions and what about the NAIA and the NCCAA Like anything, if you have specific questions its best just to e-mail me at as much of what I post here has to be general information, each association and institution has it's own way to deal with each situation so don't think if it as a one size fits all. I will post a separate post on NJCAA (Junior Colleges) as well as how the CCCAA (California Community Colleges), play into the entire mix.

Let's start with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), this is the major governing body for intercollegiate sports, that separates its member institutions by divisions. Institutions agree to follow the guidelines set forth by the NCAA to participate within one of their three divisions (D1, D2 and D3). Division I colleges are the most funded but to think that an NCAA D1 is bigger and better is just not accurate, New York University is an NCAA D3 institution with 57,000 students while Wofford College is an NCAA D1 institution with roughly 1600 students. You have to look at the philosophy of the institution to determine why they are at whatever level they choose to be at and use this as the determining factor of whether a specific college is right for you. Just because it is D1 does not mean it is better nor does it mean it is a better fit for a specific student. NCAA D1 institutions generally have the largest athletic department budgets and their sports teams generate the most revenue (mainly football, volleyball & basketball) but in baseball, largest athletic budget does not mean largest scholarship or most affordable. NCAA D1 has a larger budget to market their sports, that is why they are more well known and let's face it - kids will usually congregate to colleges where they have heard the name of before those they have not. Just as any parent would if they were choosing a new car or looking to book a flight on an airline they tend to flock toward the ones they have heard of ... but this does not make that car or airline better, most comfortable, least expensive or even the best option for you. Eventually, you do your research and discover which is the best car for your family or your needs or the best flight that fits your schedule or budget. This is true with colleges, take the time to research and discover which is the best option for you - don't just pick it because they won the Rose Bowl, were in the College World Series or made a Final Four appearance. In addition, the college being closest to home, where you have family or because it's warm there are not really great reasons to pick a college. Yeah, they could factor in but really should never be the underlining reason.

The goal of the NCAA by breaking their athletics into divisions is to create parity and level the playing field. With divisions, schools should be competing against other schools with similar resources and philosophy. However, in the climate of today's NCAA sports, there can be huge disparities between schools in the same division, especially in Division I. For example, from 2006-2011, the athletics revenue for the University of Alabama was $124,498,616. During that same period, the athletics revenue for Alabama State University was $10,614,081. Both are Division I schools.

For the 2014-15 school year, Division I contained 345 of the NCAA's 1,066 member institutions, with six additional schools in transition from Division II to Division I. There was a moratorium on any additional movement up to D1 until 2012, after which any school that wants to move to D1 must be accepted for membership by a conference and show the NCAA it has the financial ability to support a D1 program.

All D1 schools must field teams in at least seven sports for men and seven for women or six for men and eight for women, with at least two team sports for each gender. D1 schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a D1 school cannot exceed. Several other NCAA sanctioned minimums and differences that distinguish D1 from D2 and D3.

If you are looking for a baseball scholarship, it is not only important to know how to get recruited and the best ways to stand out, but also which athletic association is best for you. By learning the difference between the NCAA and the NAIA, you will gain insight into how many scholarships are available, where scholarships come from and the restrictions regarding scholarships in each association. This information is valuable to the potential scholarship athlete.

The NCAA and the NAIA are two separate governing bodies of college athletics. The NCAA is the governing body for around 1200 schools. It consists of three divisions (Division I, II, and III) and oversees 23 sports. Divisions I and II both offer athletic scholarships, with over 126,000 student-athletes receiving partial or full athletic scholarships. However, Division III student-athletes can only receive academic or non-athletic scholarships – no athletic scholarships are allowed. 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. So in theory, if you are looking for more aid at a D3 institution, investigate colleges that have a larger percentage of athletes.

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 and the differences in financial support has been a major cause in further differences between both divisions. In general, Division III athletes are expected to have solid academic performance to support a positive image of their program/s provided by the institution. Athletes are expected to pursue their degrees under the same conditions as other students. 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."

Conversely, the NAIA consists of 300 schools and 13 sports. The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA, with just over 60,000 students. It includes two divisions (Division I and II) and Division I in the NAIA is comparable to Division II in the NCAA. Over 90% of schools in the NAIA offer scholarships, and NAIA athletes receive an average of $7,000 of financial aid. However, it is impossible to say how many athletes receive scholarships because the NAIA does not have a central database like the NCAA.

The amount and type of scholarship you receive will depend on, among other things, which association your school is affiliated with and which division within that association your school plays in. Generally speaking, eligibility requirements and scholarship rules for the NCAA are stricter than those of the NAIA. For athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is very important.

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