College soccer

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College soccer is played by teams of association football students throughout colleges and universities. College soccer is probably most widespread in the United States, but is also prominent in South Korea and Canada. In these countries the institutions typically hire full-time professional coaches and staff, although the student athletes are strictly amateur and are not paid.

In the United States, college soccer is sponsored by the sports regulatory body for major universities, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and those for smaller universities and colleges, including the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).

Many top American college soccer players play for separate teams in the Premier Development League (PDL) during the summer. One college club, the BYU Cougars men's team, has foregone playing in the NCAA or NAIA and instead play all of their games in the PDL.[1] At the end of the NCAA college season, there is a college soccer 'draft', and during this draft the Professional Clubs in the USA can opt to draft the most talented college players to the professional leagues directly from college. The professional leagues who have the opportunity to cast their picks are usually MLS (Major League Soccer) with the lower professional leagues such as the USL and NASL having other ways to draft.[2][3][4]

An NCAA tournament game between Indiana University and the University of Tulsa in 2004


While similar in general appearance, NCAA rules diverge significantly from FIFA Laws of the Game. If a player accumulates five yellow cards over the course of one season, they are banned one game. A manager may make unlimited substitutions, and each player is allowed one re-entry which must occur in the second half of the match unless the substitution was caused by a player injury resulting from a caution or send-off. All matches have an overtime period if the game remains tied after 90 minutes. As opposed to a classic two half overtime, a sudden death rule is applied. If neither team scores in the two ten-minute halves, the match ends in a draw (unless it is a playoff match, then it would go to kicks from the penalty mark). College soccer is played with a clock that can be stopped when signaled to by the referee for injuries, the issuing of misconducts, or when the referee feels a team is wasting time. The clock is also stopped after goals until play is restarted, and the clock generally counts down from 45:00 to 0:00 in each half. In most professional soccer leagues, there is an up-counting clock with the referee adding injury time to the end of each 45-minute half.[5]

Proposed Division I season change[edit]

After many months of extended unofficial discussion, on August 22, 2016, NCAA Division I men’s coaches and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) officially began an "informational campaign" to build support for a proposed change of the playing schedule for Division I men's soccer. Under the proposed changes of the "Academic Year Season Model", the number of games on the Fall schedule and the number of mid-week games would be reduced, with games added in the Spring following a Winter break, and the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship tournament would be moved from November and December to May and June. In addition to more closely matching the professional season, the changes address issues of player health and safety and of the time demands on student-athletes. The proposal concerns only Division I men's soccer. While a large majority of men's coaches and players support the changes, only a small minority of women's coaches and players currently do so. At this time, there is only the "informational campaign" " educate our Athletic Directors, NCAA leadership, student athletes, coaches and fans on the advantages of this Academic Year Model,” said Sasho Cirovski, NSCAA D1 Men’s committee chair and University of Maryland head coach. No formal proposal has been made to the NCAA.[6][7]

Divisions and conferences in the United States[edit]

There are 206 Division I, 207 Division II, and 408 Division III Men's Soccer Programs.[8]

NCAA Division I[edit]

Division I attendance leaders[edit]

Fans at college soccer games (here at Indiana University in 2004) can number in the thousands between top teams.

The following Division I soccer teams had an average attendance of at least 2,000 during the 2013 season.[9]

Rank Program Home
1 UCSB Gauchos 13 3,707
2 UConn Huskies 12 3,610
3 Cal Poly Mustangs 10 2,816
4 Creighton Bluejays 10 2,716
5 Clemson Tigers 13 2,642
6 Maryland Terrapins 13 2,602
7 Indiana Hoosiers 11 2,298
8 New Mexico Lobos 12 2,121
9 Akron Zips 12 2,061
10 North Carolina Tarheels 11 2,056

NCAA Division II[edit]

NCAA Division III[edit]


History of college soccer in the U.S.[edit]

The first de facto college football game held in the U.S. in 1869 between Rutgers University and Princeton was contested under the London Football Association rules at Rutgers captain John W. Leggett' request, with the game being played under Association (soccer) rules mixed with Rugby. However most sports historians argue that this was actually the first-ever college gridiron football season in history.

The NCAA first began holding a national championship in 1959, Prior to 1959, the national champion had been determined by a national poll instead of through a national tournament.

St. Louis University won the 1959 inaugural championship using mostly local players, defeating a number of teams that were mostly foreign players.[10] St. Louis University continued to dominate the Division I Championship for a number of years, appearing in five consecutive finals from 1959 to 1963 and winning four; and appearing in six consecutive finals from 1969 to 1974 and winning four. College soccer continued growing throughout the 1970s, with the NCAA adding a Division III in 1974 to accommodate the growing number of schools.[11]

Indiana University's men's soccer program achieved success in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s with 8 national championships, 6 Hermann Trophy winners (national player of the year), and 13 national team players. From 1973 to 2003 no team won more national championships or had more NCAA College Cup appearances than Indiana.

Virginia won a record four consecutive national championships from 1991 to 1994 under head coach Bruce Arena, who later went on to coach the U.S. men's national team.

Divisions and conferences internationally[edit]


In Canada, there are two organizations that regulate university and collegiate athletics.

Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS)[edit]

Canadian Colleges Athletic Association[edit]

South Korea[edit]

The U-League is a university football competition in Korea Republic. Created in 2008, it is the first organized league competition for university football teams and will operate outside of the regular Korean football league structure.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, association football in colleges and universities is governed by the BUSA Football League.

National college soccer awards[edit]

See Category:College soccer trophies and awards in the United States

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ BYU far from a traditional college soccer program
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  6. ^ "NSCAA D1 College Men Propose Academic Year Season Model". National Soccer Coaches Association of America. 22 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "The case for extended college men's season". Soccer America. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "NCAA Soccer Men's Attendance Records" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2016.  line feed character in |title= at position 29 (help)
  10. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1959, David Litterer,
  11. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1974, Steve Holoyd,

External links[edit]