What Is The NCAA?

The NCAA regulates and applies rules to intercollegiate sports all across the United States. They also supervise contests and hold over 90 national championships. Being a student-athlete is naturally difficult, so the NCAA provides academic services as well. They provide athletes with access to academic advisors and tutors and even a degree completion program so they can come back and earn their degree if they need to. About 9 in 10 Division I student-athletes earn a bachelor's degree.

College can be expensive, so the NCAA also provides financial assistance to those you earn in or need it. Schools award about $3.5 billion in athletic scholarships every year. They also have the Student Assistance Fund which helps Division I athletes with basic needs such as flying home because of a family emergency or supplying a jacket when it is winter.

Finally, the NCAA provides athletes with wellness and insurance. Their sports science institute encourages health a safety with the extensive research done on injuries, drug testing, mental health, and sexual assault prevention. They also fund an insurance policy that covers all athletes who experience a catastrophic injury. Lastly, the NCAA supplies Division I and II athletes with unlimited meals.

The NCAA has 1,117 colleges and universities across the United States. These schools are divided into three divisions and the most popular one that you might see on television is Division I. This division is the most competitive one because of the incredible talent that the athletes have. Some popular Division I schools include the University of Southern California (USC), the University of Oregon, the University of Alabama, and Duke University. In these three divisions, there are almost half a million college athletes in 19,750 teams.


The NCAA stands for National Collegiate Athletic Association. It was established in 1906, but it was first known as the IAA, or the Intercollegiate Athletic Association and four years later, in 1910, the modern name was adopted. The first championship was held in 1921 and it was the National College Track and Field Championship.

In the beginning, the NCAA did not have a lot of control over intercollegiate athletics. However, after World War II, college attendance rose dramatically due to the government supporting veterans to go to school. As a result, interest in athletics also rose and collegiate sports became commercialized. Different sports were broadcasted all over the United States, and as the popularity grew, so did the scandals that came with the sport. Gambling and excessive recruiting forced the NCAA to have more control over intercollegiate sports and they now had more power in governing rules.


The NCAA holds competitions in 24 sports across the United States. These sports are divided into Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons. Among the 24 sports, football and basketball are the most popular. Every year the NCAA holds its March Madness basketball tournament. In the 2016-2017 season, they generated $761 million in revenue for the tournament, which was a majority of the $1.06 billion they made that year. Here is a list of sports that are in the NCAA:

NCAA Spring Sports

NCAA Fall Sports

NCAA Winter Sports


How many colleges are in the NCAA Division 1?

There are 347 Division 1 schools that span from smaller private institutions to large universities across the country. These universities generate the most revenue out of the rest of the schools in the NCAA. In the highest subdivision of Division 1, known as the FBS, there are ten conferences that house over 130 schools. Some of these conferences include the Atlantic Coastal Conference (ACC), Southeastern Conference (SEC), Big 10, Big 12, and the Pac 12. Many of the colleges in Division 1 offer full scholarships for football, basketball, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics while partial scholarships can be offered for other sports. Even though there are many colleges in Division 1, the NCAA's division 3 houses the most schools in it.

How many athletes are in the NCAA Division 1?

There are more than 6,000 sports teams throughout Division 1 athletics that contain more than 170,000 student athletes. There are about 10,500 high school baseball athletes that move onto play Division 1 baseball. Around 27,000 high school football players move onto play for a Division one team and about 5,000 high school athletes move onto play in Division 1. Division III contains the highest percentage of male high school athletes that play in college with 29% or 1.3 million athletes but Division I is not far behind. Division I schools contain 25% of all male high school athletes or 1.1 million athletes. There is a small increase in the percentage of high school women athletes that play in division one with 27% being on a division I team.

What are the divisions in the NCAA?

In the NCAA there are three divisions known as Division I, Division II, and Division III. They are all unique in that they all have different schools and finances in them. Division III contains the most number of schools followed by division I and then division II. Division II is almost like the forgotten division since most athletes strive to make teams within the other two divisions. Division I contains the most available scholarships followed by division II. NCAA's division III schools do not offer scholarships for their students but try to help them focus more on building their potential off their sporting field.

How many Division 1 AA college football teams are there?

In the 2019 season there were 126 different football teams competing within the Division 1 AA (FCS). These schools are spread out across the United States and split up across 14 different divisions:

  • Big Sky
  • Big South
  • Colonial Athletic Association
  • Independants
  • Ivy League
  • Mid Eastern Atlantic
  • Missouri Valley
  • Northeast
  • Ohio Valley
  • Patriot League
  • Pioneer League
  • Southern
  • Southland
  • Southwestern Atlantic (East & West Conferences)

All leagues allow athletic scholarships except for the Ivy and Pioneer leagues. Some Notable Division 1 AA schools are:

  • North Dakota State Bison
  • James Madison University Dukes
  • Holy Cross Crusaders
  • Villanova University Wildcats
  • University of Albany Great Danes
  • University of Northern Iowa Panthers
  • Elon University Phoenix
  • Harvard University Crimson

What makes a college d1?

NCAA Division 1 is the highest level of athletic competition at the collegiate level. There are many different requirements schools must comply with including:

  • Offer at least 14 different varsity sports, (seven for men and seven for women, or 6 for men and 8 for women)
  • Offer two team sports for both mens and womens programs
  • Have fan attendance regulations for football and basketball
  • Provide athletic scholarships (Division 2 uses partial method, Division 3 does not offer athletic scholarships)
  • Students must maintain GPA minimums and a minimum number of courses taken

As of 2018 there were over 350 schools classified as Division 1 athletics. These are major athletics programs and can be responsible for bringing in millions in revenue for the institution. There were 231 schools with available data that generated a total of $9.15 billion in revenue in 2018 alone.

Is Ivy League a Division 1 football?

The Ivy League is Division 1 football and part of the FCS or NCAA Division 1 Football Championship conference. Within the conference, the Ivy League has its own division. Since Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships they are not allowed to compete in the FBS, but do still offer other non-athletic scholarships. There are currently 8 members of the Ivy League:

  • Brown University Bears
  • Columbia University Lions
  • Cornell University Big Red
  • Dartmouth University Big Green
  • Harvard University Crimson
  • University of Pennsylvania Quakers
  • Princeton University Tigers
  • Yale University Bulldogs

The Ivy League has a long outstanding reputation for academics and chooses not to allocate the majority of their financial resources to a football program like FBS schools do.

How many NCAA Division 2 schools are there?

There are currently 310 full members and 4 provisional members in NCAA Division 2 and over 110,00 student athletes. The majority of schools in this conference are smaller public and private institutions. Most schools have less than 3,000 total students enrolled. There are only two schools within the conference that have more than 25,000 students: UC San Diego (moving to Division 1) & Simon Fraser University in B.C., Canada (first international member). As of 2018 schools from Mexico were eligible to apply for membership in NCAA Division 2. There are 2 member schools within Alaska, and another 4 within Hawaii. Division 2 offers 7 team sports and and seven individual sports for both men and women at member institutions to compete in and serves as a middle ground between Division 1 and Division 3 athletics.

Notable Division 2 Schools:

  • UC San Diego Tritons
  • Stonehill College Skyhawks
  • Rollins College Tars
  • Truman State University Bulldogs
  • Bentley College Falcons
  • Seattle Pacific University Falcons
  • University of Tampa Spartans
  • Adelphi University Panthers
  • Hillsdale College Chargers
  • Le Moyne College Dolphins

Does NCAA Division 2 give scholarships?

Division 2 schools follow the "partial scholarship model" in which schools recognize a student's athletic ability through scholarship dollars without covering all of the student's college expenses. Division 1 offers fully funded scholarships for a lot of student athletes and Division 3 offers no scholarship money whatsoever. This three division structure was adopted in 1973 and gave more variation on how the NCAA classified institutions as opposed to the separation between "university" and "college" in the past. Division 2 since 2005 has launched a campaign focused on excelling in academics, athletics, and being a citizen in their community. This method can be more effective for institutions in financing their athletic programs and has proven to generate revenue as compared to the models of Division 1 and Division 3.

Can Division 2 schools offer full ride scholarships?

It is very uncommon for schools to offer a full ride scholarship in Division 2, but it is still possible. Schools are only allowed to allocate a certain amount of money across the team in however way they believe is best. There is not enough financial resources available for every athlete on a team to receive a full ride scholarship, so it is the college decision on how they allocate their resources. Instead student athletes can receive academic scholarships, student loans, and employment earnings like normal students to help cover expenses not covered through athletics. Schools are only allowed a certain amount of scholarships per team, for example for a Division 2 football program the maximum number of scholarships allowed is 36, but the team roster is closer to 80 players giving the school the only option to offer partial scholarship to all the athletes in most cases. This gives schools the ability that if necessary or in special circumstances they may offer a full scholarship to a student athlete.

What is Division 2 college football?

Division 2 college football is played by the schools within Division 2 that offer football as a varsity sport. In the 2019 season there 167 teams that competed within NCAA Division 2 college football, there will be another three teams joining the conference in the 2020 season (Barton College, Erskine College, & Anderson University). Each year the Division 2 Football Championship is held and features 28 teams from the conference in a single game elimination tournament. In the previous two seasons the championship game has been hosted at McKinney ISD Stadium in Texas and has been broadcasted on ESPN since 1994. Northwest Missouri State has the most championship wins in history with 6, and the most recent champion in 2019 was the University of West Florida capturing their first title.

Is a Division 3 school good?

Between the 3 NCAA divisions, Division 3 is the largest with about 450 schools/institutions. Although at least five sports are offered at all Division 3 schools, academics are the primary focus. Division 3 institutions are a great option for those searching for a more well rounded college experience. Compared to Division 1 and Division 2 schools, Division 3 schools are much less athletic focused. Although athletes still participate in weekly practices and other requirements, Division 3 schools aim to allow student athletes to feel much more like other students. 87% of Division 3 athletes graduate, so academically these universities are very successful.

Attending a Division 3 school greatly decreases one's chances of going professional in the sport. Compared to Division 1, the lower division produces a much smaller proportion of professional athletes.

Does NCAA Division 3 give scholarships?

The NCAA Division 3 does not offer official athletic scholarships to their athletes. This is the defining characteristic of Division 3 schools compared to Division 1 and Division 2. However, Division 3 institutions often still give financial benefits to student athletes via grants or need-based scholarships to academically qualified athletes. The rules regarding scholarships state that financial aid should be granted to student athletes using the same requirements as the general student body. The financial benefits cannot be granted based on athletic or physical performances. So although Division 3 schools are not allowed to grant athletic scholarships, they often give student athletes financial assistance in other ways.

Do Division 3 athletes need to register with the NCAA?

Division 3 athletes do not need to register with the NCAA. Athletes attending Division 1 and Division 2 schools register with the NCAA to ensure they meet their eligibility standards. However, in Division 3, schools set their own standards for athletes to follow. Division 3 athletes' eligibility is determined by their schools, so the requirements can be higher or lower than NCAA standards. Division 3 schools are not allowed to use the National Letter of Intent or any similar documents to pre enroll athletes in a way that differs from the rest of the student body.

Can you get a full ride to a Division 3 school?

Division 3 schools do not give our full ride athletic scholarships like Division 1 or Division 2 schools. As mentioned previously, Division 3 schools do not give any athletic based scholarships. They provide financial aid to student athletes as if they were any other student. If a student athlete were to obtain merit-based scholarships or grants, their aid may add up to full tuition. However, it is not considered a full ride athletic scholarship. Student athletes can gain scholarships through academics, extracurricular activities, and other areas just like other applicants.