ATHLETIC DIVISIONS OF THE NCAA
COLLEGES HAVE TO MEET CERTAIN STANDARDS TO COMPETE IN EACH DIVISION
Division I member schools are required to sponsor a minimum of seven sports for women and seven for men (or eight for women and six for men). This must include two sports for both men and women.
Every separate college season has to be represented by each gender also. There are also scheduling, participant and contest minimums for each sport. Football Bowl Subdivision teams must meet a minimum attendance requirement of an average of 15,000 people in actual or paid attendance for each home game. DI colleges need to meet minimum scholarship awards for their athletics program, and the maximum number of scholarships for each sport is set by NCAA regulation.
Division I is home to many of the country’s biggest universities. There are many scholarship opportunities and the competition is cut-throat. This division is seen as the first step towards professional sport.
Division II member colleges are required to sponsor at minimum of five sports for women and five for men, (or six for women and four for men). This must include two team sports for both women and men. Each college playing season must be represented by each gender as well. There are participant and contest minimums set for each sport and scheduling criteria as well. The NCAA sets maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Division II institution cannot exceed. Division II athletics programs are financed through the college budget like other academic departments on campus.
Division II schools tend to be smaller universities and colleges. There are no age limit at D II schools.
Division III member colleges are required to sponsor a minimum of five sports for women and five for men. There are no athletic scholarships offered by DIII institutions. Student-athletes receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability and sports departments are funded and staffed like any other department in the university. Athletics at D III level encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletics opportunities that are available to students. The emphasis is on conference and regional in-season competition.
Division III colleges are limited as far as recruiting is concerned and the level of play varies greatly.
The above information is a short précis of the differences. To learn more please visit the NCAA website.