The NCAA regulates athletes of 1,281 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The NCAA has a three-division system of Division I, Division II, and Division III. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III.
What is the difference between NCAA and NAIA?
One common question that most young athletes ask, when considering College Sports, is what the differences are in the divisions? In most of the world Division 1 is better than Division 2 but his is not how it works in College Sports. Each university offering college sports must apply for an affiliation to a college sports division. There is a lot of criteria considered when a university decides on what division it will compete in, like finances, location and preference. Whatever division the university decides to compete in normally ALL the other sports following and compete in that division. Being in NCAA Division 1 does not automatically make the program better. Just because a soccer team competes in NCAA Division 1, it does not automatically make them better than all NCAA Division 2 & 3 and NAIA programs. Check out our page on Choosing a University for more information.
NCAA International Impact
Evidence of a worldwide search for talent is found in the 17,653 international student-athletes that competed in NCAA competition during the 2009-10 school year, a large increase from the just under 6,000 that competed a decade prior. Among Division I universities, over one-third of the male and female athletes in both tennis and ice hockey, and over one-eighth of male and female golfers, were born outside of the United States. In addition to increasing participation numbers, international athletes have dominated in individual sports like tennis, soccer and golf, and led teams to championship performances
NCAA Academic Eligibility
To participate in college athletics in their freshman year, the NCAA requires that students meet three criteria: having graduated from high school, be completing the minimum required academic courses, and having qualifying grade-point average (GPA) and SAT or ACT scores.
You must achieve five or more different academic subject passes at GCSE grades A-E or Scottish Standard grades 1-7 including Maths, English, Science and Social Studies (History, Geography etc.) with an overall average of grade C or 3. The NCAA applies a sliding scale for the minimum SAT scores that are required for acceptance to NCAA Division I colleges. This will depend on your average academic grade. The higher your average academic grade is, the lower the minimum SAT score required.
To meet the requirements for grade point average and SAT scores, the lowest possible GPA a student may be eligible with is a 1.70, as long as they have an SAT score of 1400 (sliding scale). The lowest SAT scores a student may be eligible with is 700 as long as they have a GPA of 2.500.
NCAA Academic Eligibility
To be eligible to play at an NCAA school as a freshman there are a variety of criteria that you need to meet but the main points are that you have never been a professional or perceived to have been a professional and that you haven’t participated in any competitions during a gap year after having finished your academic studies. Failure to do either of these can potentially result in the NCAA Eligibility Centre making the decision to deduct you at least a season of playing so it is extremely important you answer their questions in line with what is required to prove your athletic eligibility.