What Schools are there?
What Soccer Programs do they offer? What are the differences
between certain divisions and levels?
Several organizations govern college athletics and establish rules for their sports programs. They also run championships and establish eligibility requirements for the student athletes attending the member schools.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the oldest and largest national sports organization in the U.S. It has three divisions containing schools ranging from the smallest colleges to the largest universities.
NCAA Division I schools are typically large universities. Three hundred twenty-six schools belong to Division I, including schools like Ohio State, Duke, and the Ivies. NCAA DI is considered to be the highest level of college sports, although not all DI schools are better than all DII or DIII schools. Division I schools can offer athletic scholarships.
Many Division II schools are smaller public universities, (such as West Chester State University in Pennsylvania and University of Tampa) but some are private. It also includes specialty schools, such as Colorado School of Mines. DII schools can also offer athletic scholarships. Two hundred seventy-nine schools participate in Division II.
Athletes who want to participate in DI or DII athletics must register and be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. http://www.ncaaclearinghouse.net/.
NCAA Division III schools are usually small, although some, such as New York University, are quite large. Competition among the four hundred twenty NCAA Division III schools varies widely.
DIII schools don't offer athletic scholarships and prospective student athletes don't have to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Specific requirements for schools in each division are available at: http://tinyurl.com/ylchd23. A list of the schools in each division is available at http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=3.
A few schools play in several divisions, depending on the sport. Johns Hopkins University plays DI lacrosse and DIII soccer, for instance.
Some colleges and universities don't belong to the NCAA. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) offers fewer sports and has fewer recruiting restrictions than the NCAA. The level of play is typically somewhere between NCAA DII and DIII. It includes nearly three hundred schools. There is no clearinghouse. Information about colleges that belong to the NAIA can be found at http://www.naia.org/index.html.
Two other governing organizations are the NJCAA and NCCAA. The NJCAA (the National Junior College Athletic Association) is made up of two year and junior colleges. Many of its members are community colleges.
Like the NCAA, it has three divisions. Division I can offer full athletic scholarships. Division II can offer athletic scholarships limited to tuition, fees, and books. Division III may not provide financial assistance related to athletics.
The NCCAA is the National Christian College Athletic Association. Many of its members are also NCAA or NAIA members. It is divided into two divisions. Division 1 schools offer athletic scholarships, Division 2 don't.