Are College Athletics Worth It? Differences Between College Athletic Organizations
Updated: Jul 26, 2022
There are three major athletic organizations: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The eligibility and registration requirements for student athletes vary by athletic association.
NCAA Eligibility and Registration Requirements
In the case of the NCAA, the eligibility and registration requirements for student athletes, along with scholarship opportunities, vary by division within the association. The NCAA regulates student athletes from over one thousand institutions and conferences in North America, where it also organizes athletic programs for colleges and universities. The NCAA sets eligibility standards for student-athletes, which can be found at: http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future. NCAA schools are broken into three divisions.
Division I schools tend to be relatively large in terms of enrollment and athletic budgets.
Division II schools tend to be smaller than Division I schools and larger than Division III schools.
Division III schools tend to be relatively small and focus more on academics, and their student athletes do not need to register with the NCAA. While Division III schools do not offer "athletic scholarships," over 75 percent of Division III student-athletes receive some form of need- or merit-based financial aid Play Division III sports | NCAA.org - The Official Site of the NCAA.
Student-athletes at Division I and II schools must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center to be eligible to compete. Students should consider registering in 10th grade, and they can register at this site: https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/. College-bound athletes need to meet standards involving (1) academic rigor of high school courses, (2) high school Grade Point Average (GPA), and (3) scores on standardized tests (standardized tests are waived during Covid) in order to be eligible to participate in Division I athletics: http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Student_Resources/DI_ReqsFactSheet.pdf. There are similar, but different, standards to participate in Division II athletics: http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/eligibility_center/Student_Resources/DII_Quick_Reference_Sheet.pdf.
NJCAA Eligibility Standards
The NJCAA promotes sports at a few hundred two-year colleges in the United States. In addition, the NJCAA sets eligibility standards for student-athletes in junior colleges, which can be found at: https://www.njcaa.org/eligibility/index. Student-athletes must have a high school diploma, or its equivalent, and be in good academic standing. Eligibility is determined at the institution level so there is no requirement to register with the NJCAA. Like the NCAA, the NJCAA has three divisions and its Divisions I and II offer athletic scholarships while Division III does not Divisional Structure - NJCAA.
NAIA Eligibility Standards
The NAIA serves 250 member schools with a focus on small college athletics. It also sets academic standards for college-bound student-athletes regarding (1) high school GPA, (2) high school class rank, and (3) scores on standardized tests (GPA alone will be used during Covid). The standards can be found at: https://www.ncsasports.org/naia-eligibility-center/requirements. NAIA student-athletes must register to be eligible to compete at: https://play.mynaia.org/. NAIA student-athletes may receive financial aid from schools NAIA Financial Aid - NAIA.
Facts about college sports
In 2015, NCAA Division I student-athletes typically spent 33 hours per week on athletics. Two-thirds of the student-athletes indicated that they spent as much if not more time on athletics during the off season (2020-2021 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, p. 6).
In 2015, NCAA Division II student-athletes typically spent 31 hours per week on athletics. Two-thirds of the student-athletes indicated that they spent as much if not more time on athletics during the off season (2020-2021 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, p. 7).
Approximately 2 percent of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship in college. NCAA Division I and II schools provide scholarships to approximately 150,000 athletes annually at a cost of $2.7 billion. (2019-2020 Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, p. 3; for more general information on scholarships, please see https://www.educ8fit.com/paying-for-college.)
In 2016-2017, the NCAA took in $1.06 billion in revenue, over 82 percent of which was generated by the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Collegiate_Athletic_Association
Some prospective student-athletes will decide that the demands placed on some varsity college athletes are not worth the time commitment. Information like this can help you find a school that is the right fit for you. For information and tools regarding the college admission process, please visit our website at https://www.educ8fit.com, and contact us at https://www.educ8fit.com/contact-us for a free 30 minute consultation.
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