College Athletics

Are you interested in continuing to play a sport in college? If you aspire to continue with athletics at the college or university level, there are a few things you should know now. Lauren Moore, Athletic Director, as well as all of the coaches can serve as informational resources for you; be sure to check in with Ms. Moore, your coach, and Mr. Richardson in the College Placement Office if you're hoping to play sports in college.  

There are a number of different athletic associations, levels of competition within those associations, and different colleges or universities generally affiliated with each all across the country.

NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the largest, most widely recognized and diverse of the athletic associations in terms of opportunities available to college bound athletes. 

Fast Facts

The NCAA requires all prospective student-athletes to meet a few general criteria in order to be eligible to play:

  • Graduate from high school
  • Complete core coursework
  • Have a minimum GPA
  • Earn an ACT or SAT score which matches your core-course GPA

The NCAA currently has 1,123 college and university member institutions.
There are 98 voting athletics conferences and 39 affiliated organizations.
Nearly half a million college athletes make up the 19,500 teams that send more than 54,000 participants to compete each year in the NCAA’s 90 championships in 24 sports across 3 divisions.

Division I:

  • The most competitive NCAA division
  • Nearly 350 colleges and universities offer D-I opportunities
  • These 350 institutions field 6,000 teams and have nearly 170,000 student athletes among their student bodies
  • Generally these institutions are the largest among the NCAA schools
  • Generally they manage the largest athletic budgets and provide the most generous athletic scholarships
  • Student-athletes MUST register with the Eligibility Center
  • a minimum 2.3 GPA is required to be eligible*
  • 16 "core courses" are required:
    • Remember a simple formula, 4x4=16
      • 4 English courses (1 per year)
      • 4 Math (1 per year)
      • 4 Science (1 per year)
      • 4 Social Science (1 per year)

Division II:

  • 307 colleges and universities offer D-II opportunities
  • 118,800 student-athletes
  • Student-athletes are often equally skilled as their D-I counterparts
  • Enrollments at Division II schools range from more than 25,000 to less than 2,500; approximately 87 percent of the division’s member schools have fewer than 8,000 students.
  • A "partial scholarship" model is used at D-II schools. 61% of all student-athletes receive some form of athletic aid
  • Student financial need is funded through partial athletic scholarship, academic grant, other forms of need-based financial aid, and employment.
  • Student-athletes MUST register with the Eligibility Center
  • a minimum 2.2 GPA is required to be eligible*
  • 16 "core courses" are required:
    • Remember a simple formula, 4x4=16
      • 4 English courses (1 per year)
      • 4 Math (1 per year)
      • 4 Science (1 per year)
      • 4 Social Science (1 per year)

* NCAA Divisions I and II utilize a "sliding scale" to match test scores and GPAs to determine eligibility. The sliding scale balances your test score with your GPA. If you have a low test score, you need a higher GPA to be eligible. Find more information about sliding scales at ncaa.org/playcollegesports.

Division III:

  • The largest of the three divisions both in terms of college and university participation and student-athlete involvement
  • 450 colleges and universities offer student-athletes D-III opportunities
  • 187,800 student athletes compete on D-III athletic teams
  • no athletic scholarships are available; institutions may still fund students through other need-based financial aid vehicles, but funds specifically designated for athletics are not available.
  • Eligibility Center registration is NOT REQUIRED

Additional information on the NCAA divisions and data on student success can be found here.

For more information on eligibility and to register with the NCAA initial eligibility center please refer to http://www.eligibilitycenter.org or browse their brochure.

NAIA

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics is often compared to NCAA Division II in terms of size of institution and high level of competition among its student athletes.  

Fast Facts

  • As of July 1, 2016, the NAIA reports having 246 member institutions in the US, Canada and the Bahamas.
  • Approximately 65,000 student-athletes compete in 21 different conferences.
  • Registering early with the NAIA Eligibility Center is required for any student who plans to attend an NAIA school.

Additional Associations

Other (smaller) associations include:
National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA)
United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA)
Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) – Community colleges in Washington and Oregon