Division III (NCAA)
Division III (or DIII) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the United States. The division consists of colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletically related financial aid (athletic scholarships) to their student-athletes.
It was formed in 1973 in a split of the College Division, the former second-tier division of NCAA member schools. The former College Division members that chose to offer athletic scholarships became Division II, while the non-scholarship members became Division III.
There are 449 member institutions (both full and provisional), making it the largest of the three divisions in the NCAA.
D-III schools range in size from fewer than 500 to over 20,000 students. D-III schools compete in athletics as a non-revenue-making, extracurricular activity for students; hence, they may not offer athletic scholarships, they may not redshirt freshmen, and they may not use endowments or funds whose primary purpose is to benefit their athletic programs. Also, under NCAA rules, D-III schools "shall not award financial aid to any student on the basis of athletics leadership, ability, participation or performance". Financial aid given to athletes must be awarded under the same procedures as for the general student body, and the proportion of total financial aid given to athletes "shall be closely equivalent to the percentage of student-athletes within the student body." As an example of how seriously the NCAA takes the scholarship ban, in 2005 MacMurray College became only the fifth school to be slapped with a "death penalty" after its men's tennis program was found to have given grants to foreign-born players.
All Division III schools must field athletes in at least ten sports, with men's and women's competition in a given sport counting as two different sports. In 2012, coeducational schools with more than 1,000 undergraduates must field athletes in at least twelve sports, with at least six all-female teams and at least six teams that are either all-male or mixed-sex. Coeducational schools with fewer than 1,000 undergraduates must still field at least five sports in each category. Single-sex schools need only field five or six sports, depending on undergraduate enrollment. For all schools regardless of enrollment, at least three sports for each sex must be team sports.
Conferences competing in Division III 
* Conference sponsors football
† The MASCAC does not currently sponsor football, but has announced that it will begin sponsoring football in 2013.
Division III schools with Division I programs 
Thirteen D-III schools currently play up to the Division I level in one or two sports (one maximum for each sex).
Seven of them are grandfathered schools that have traditionally competed at the highest level of a particular sport prior to the institution of the Division classifications in 1971. These schools are allowed to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I sports to remain competitive with their opponents.
- Clarkson University (men's and women's ice hockey)
- Colorado College (men's ice hockey and women's soccer)
- Hartwick College (men's soccer and women's water polo)
- Johns Hopkins University (men's and women's lacrosse)
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (men's and women's ice hockey)
- Rutgers–Newark (men's volleyball)
- St. Lawrence University (men's and women's ice hockey)
(State University of New York at Oneonta was previously grandfathered in men's soccer but moved totally to Division III in 2006.)
The other six schools choose to play up in one sport for men and optionally one sport for women, but they are not grandfathered and thus are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships. Academic-based and need-based financial aid is still available.
- Franklin and Marshall College (men's wrestling)
- Hobart College (men's lacrosse)
- Lawrence University (fencing)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (women's rowing)
- MIT also "plays up" in men's rowing, but not as an NCAA program—college men's rowing has never been an NCAA sport.
- Rochester Institute of Technology (men's and women's ice hockey)
- Union College (men's and women's ice hockey)
Football and basketball may not be grandfathered Division I programs because their revenue-enhancing potential would give them an unfair advantage over other Division III schools. In 1992, several Division I schools playing Division III in football, most notably Georgetown University, were forced to upgrade their football programs to a Division I level.
In August 2007, the NCAA instituted a moratorium on all division moves, including play-ups. That moratorium expired in August 2011, but the NCAA has indicated that play-ups will no longer be allowed as a general policy (though at least one exception has been made in women's ice hockey due to the lack of Division II competition in that sport).
Division III schools playing in non-divisional sports 
In addition to the D-III schools that play as Division I members, MIT and at least 27 other D-III schools compete alongside D-I and D-II members in sports that the NCAA does not split into divisions; teams in these sports are not counted as "play-ups". D-III members cannot award scholarships in these sports.
NCAA bowling is currently a women-only sport.
- Adrian College
- Alma College
- Elmhurst College
- Medaille College
- New Jersey City University
- Pennsylvania State University Altoona
- University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
The NCAA team championship is a combined men's and women's event, with only one team champion crowned. Most NCAA fencing schools have coeducational teams; a few schools field only a women's team.
- Brandeis University
- California Institute of Technology
- City College of New York (women only)
- Drew University
- Haverford College
- Hunter College
- Johns Hopkins University
- Lawrence University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- New York University
- Stevens Institute of Technology
- Tufts University (women only)
- Vassar College
- Wellesley College (women only)
- Yeshiva University
- Men's gymnastics
Only 17 NCAA members now sponsor men's gymnastics as a varsity sport; as a result, the NCAA conducts a single team championship for all divisions. The only non-Division I school among the 17 is a Division III member.
Although the NCAA officially classifies rifle as a men's sport, competition is fully coeducational. Schools may field single-sex or coed teams, and are also allowed to field more than one team (either two single-sex teams, or one single-sex and one coed team).
- John Jay College of Criminal Justice (women-only team)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (men-only team)
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy (women-only team)
- Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (coed team)
- State University of New York Maritime College (separate men's and women's teams)
- United States Coast Guard Academy (women-only team)
Comparison to Division I athletics 
General and Historical Considerations 
The portion of college athletics most familiar to the American general public is NCAA Division I, and specifically only the portion of Division I which generates enough interest to get extensive television coverage. Public awareness of the other NCAA Divisions is often limited, so it is natural for interested people to want to compare and contrast them with the most familiar Division as a means to learn about them. The comparisons made here, however, will be with Division I as a whole, not just the portion which obtains most television coverage.
NCAA regulations require signatories to field so many sports programs that a substantial investment in athletics by any member college or university is a must. In any NCAA Division, most schools hire coaches whose job is to coach full-time. They hire people who specialize in developing talent. Further, college athletes are people who devote long hours to practice for their sports. Such a commitment is prone to produce exceptional prowess in those given sports. When coaching staffs which specialize in developing talent full-time are paired with athletes who devote many hours to practice and training for their sports, the result is a high level of athletics, regardless of affiliation.
As noted in the article about NCAA Division II, the former College Division was formed because many NCAA member schools wanted an alternative to the expensive nature of Division I. College Division schools were able to field competitive teams without needing to spend a lot of money; an athletic program no longer needed to spend a lot of money to have a strong chance at a national postseason tournament or a winning record. Later, as noted above, the College Division split between schools which did want to offer athletics-based financial aid and schools which did not. The schools that wanted to offer financial aid became Division II, while those that did not became Division III.
To ensure the newer divisions and Division I would not have a similar relationship to professional baseball's minor leagues and major leagues, the NCAA has strict regulations. It is not at all uncommon for an athlete in the newer divisions to be capable of contributing to a Division I program; some could do so at the beginning of their college career, others after a season or two of training and competition. The NCAA has regulations in place to deter transfers for athletic purposes. Coaching staffs are not permitted to recruit athletes from other four-year colleges and universities; any pursuit of a transfer must be initiated by the athlete. Athletes who compete for one program and then transfer to a Division I school to compete in the same sport on its team are penalized. Most student athletes do not transfer, and remain on track to graduate with a degree from a single college or university.
With the creation of new NCAA Divisions, not every school was willing to switch even when a newer Division might be a better match with the nature of its athletic program. For instance, some NCAA Division I programs do not offer athletic scholarships, making them akin to Division III schools. Others invest money in their athletics programs at quantities similar to what is typical for Division II. However, since what was originally called the University Division, now called Division I, holds more prestige and obtains more publicity, some college sports programs have remained in Division I even when they hold strong resemblance to programs in another Division.
The causes for the NCAA Divisions mean that they all differ in how they invest in their athletic programs. These differences affect recruiting of high school and other prospects. Division I programs typically have more money and more freedom to offer athletics-based financial aid to prospective athletes. They can offer more financial aid money to top prospects, offer to more top prospects, and appeal to the notoriety that their program receives as a Division I program. Division II programs offer less athletics-based money and must limit the quantity of beneficiaries per NCAA regulations for Division II. Division III programs do appeal to some top prospects on the basis of their schools' academic reputations, but they do not offer athletics-based financial aid, and further, commonly have academic demands which would discourage many top prospects.
All this being said, college athletics programs recruit athletes who have devoted many long hours to practice in their sports, and have exceptional aptitude in their sports. Whether a college athletics programs gets the very best of high level athletes or the least of high level athletes still means the school gets high level athletes, regardless of NCAA Division.
Further, college athletes are expected to be enrolled students in classes at that school. Whether a college or university affiliates with Division I, II or III, the athletes on those teams are supposed to be involved in academic studies at their schools. The amount the athlete is expected to expend in academic pursuits varies, but every athlete is supposed to be enrolled in college classes and making some level of academic progress.
Financial comparison 
Division III institutions do not have the same access to scholarship money when it comes to the recruiting process. 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. 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. Sixty percent of all NCAA revenue is given directly to Division I institutions alone. From 2009–2010, $433 million made up the NCAA's Division I expenses. Only about three percent of the NCAA’s spending goes towards Division III programs. The differences in financial support has been a major cause in further differences between both divisions.
Effects on student athletes 
The differences in division requirements and financial regulation have led to some distinct differences in student life. Participation in school activities outside of intercollegiate athletics is more common in Division III athletes, and they are more likely to see themselves as part of their college's community. Division III athletes are also known to put much more emphasis on their academic experience, including participation in on-campus research and extra-curricular activities. Not only is there more involvement, but Division III Athletes have proven to be more successful in time management when compared to non-athletes at the same institution. There are also differences in the student-athlete social experience. Division I athletes are more likely to have friends who are exclusively part of their respective team.
Division III athletes are not considered to have athletic obligations to their college or university. They do not feel their prospects of an education to be dependent upon their athletic performance. Because athletics-based financial aid is prohibited, an athlete's financial support is not going to be withdrawn for not performing as well as a teammate. This allows a less stressful approach to the sport itself. Further, because a student's financial aid is not tied to any athletics obligation, an athlete is not going to be told to not declare a particular major or refrain from any course by an athletics staff member who can withdraw financial support from the athlete. This frees the athlete to make the most of the educational opportunities afforded by the college or university.
Division III athletes in general must live a disciplined lifestyle to be successful, because they must undergo rigorous training to be able to compete at the level expected of college athletes, and they must attend to their academic responsibilities on the same terms as other students. College administrators who place affiliation with Division III do so by choice, and because of that, expect a priority placed upon colleges as educational institutions. Coaches are expected to support the high priority placed on academics, and those expectations are reflected onto athletes. The NCAA requires a C grade point average to remain eligible, but it is common for Division III programs to consider this unsatisfactory for their athletes. Coaches commonly conduct study tables and other team events to ensure athletes see their athletic ventures as tied to their academic responsibilities. There are not supposed to be course sections specifically for athletes, nor are there supposed to be athletic tutors nor similar special academic support provided by the institution. Athletes are expected to pursue their degrees under the same conditions as other students. Keeping up with the demands of rigorous training and with expectations of solid academic performance present a dual challenge for Division III athletes which calls for a disciplined approach to college life.
Division III alumni are often quite proud of their college experiences and of what is commonly referred to as "the Division III culture" and/or "the Division III philosophy." They commonly take pride in having met the dual challenge of athletic performance at a high level and adhering to strong academic expectations as they earned their degrees.
Recent changes 
In 2003, concerned about the direction of the Division, the Division III Presidents' Council, led by Middlebury College President John McCardell, acted to limit the length of the traditional and non-traditional seasons, eliminate redshirting, and redefine a season of participation, all of which changes were approved by a majority vote of the membership.
An additional proposal that would have eliminated the ability of the institutions listed above to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I sports was rejected, though rules limiting the exception to only those schools currently offering D-I programs were approved. These actions took place at the January 2004 NCAA Convention.
- NCAA. "Bylaw 220.127.116.11 Minimum Amount of Participation" (PDF). 2012-13 NCAA Division III Manual. p. 93. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Under Bylaw 18.104.22.168, a Division III athlete uses a year of eligibility by either practicing with or playing on a team. This differs from the rules for Divisions I and II, in which only playing on a team counts as participation.
- The so-called "medical redshirt", officially known as a "hardship waiver", is covered by a different NCAA bylaw—specifically Bylaw 14.2.5 (p. 96, 2012–13 NCAA Division III Manual).
- "Bylaw 15.01.5 Student-Athlete Financial Aid Endowments or Funds" (PDF). 2012–13 NCAA Division III Manual. NCAA. p. 107. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- "Bylaw 15.01.3 Institutional Financial Aid" (PDF). 2012–13 NCAA Division III Manual. NCAA. p. 107. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- "Bylaw 15.4.1 Consistent Financial Aid Package." (PDF). 2012–13 NCAA Division III Manual. NCAA. p. 110. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- 2004 MacMurray infractions report
- "Bylaw 20.11.3 Sports Sponsorship." (PDF). 2012–13 NCAA Division III Manual. NCAA. pp. 187–90. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- "Microsoft Word - Issue Four_Division II as Possible Membership Destination.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- USCHO: Scholarships Will Continue For D-III 'Play Up' Schools
- NCAA Freezes Division I Membership
- Draper, Alan. "Innocence Lost: Division III Sports Programs." Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning 28.6 (1996): 46-49. Print.
- "Where Does the Money Go?".
- "Differences Among the Three Divisions: Division III." NCAA.org. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 13 Dec. 2011. Web.
- "NCAA Goals Study 2011".
- NCAA official administrative website
- NCAA official sports website
- "What Division III has to offer" according to the NCAA
- D3football.com, covers Division III football
- D3hoops.com, covers Division III men's and women's basketball
- D3baseball.com, covers Division III baseball
- D3soccer.com, covers Division III men's and women's soccer
- USCHO.com, covers Division III men's and women's ice hockey
- "What It Means To Be A Division III Athlete", article by Justin Lunt, Head Men's Basketball Coach at the University of Puget Sound
- "Why Division III Athletics?", article by Brian Chafin, Athletic Director at Centre College