What’s the difference between Divisions I, II and III?
Division I member institutions have to sponsor at least seven sports for men and seven for women (or six for men and eight for women) with two team sports for each gender. Each playing season has to be represented by each gender as well. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. For sports other than football and basketball, Div. I schools must play 100% of the minimum number of contests against Div. I opponents — anything over the minimum number of games has to be 50% Div. I. Men’s and women’s basketball teams have to play all but two games against Div. I teams, for men, they must play 1/3 of all their contests in the home arena. Schools that have football are classified as Div. I-A or I-AA. I-A football schools are usually fairly elaborate programs. Div. I-A teams have to meet minimum attendance requirements (17,000 people in attendance per home game, OR 20,000 average of all football games in the last four years or, 30,000 permanent seats in their stadium and average 17,000 per home game or 20,000 average of all football games in the last four years OR, be in a member conference in which at least six conference members sponsor football or more than half of football schools meet attendance criterion. Div. I-AA teams do not need to meet minimum attendance requirements. Div. I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. I school cannot exceed.
Division II institutions have to sponsor at least four sports for men and four for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria — football and men’s and women’s basketball teams must play at least 50% of their games against Div. II or I-A or I-AA opponents. For sports other than football and basketball there are no scheduling requirements. There are not attendance requirements for football, or arena game requirements for basketball. There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Div. II school must not exceed. Division II teams usually feature a number of local or in-state student-athletes. Many Division II student-athletes pay for school through a combination of scholarship money, grants, student loans and employment earnings. Division II athletics programs are financed in the institution’s budget like other academic departments on campus. Traditional rivalries with regional institutions dominate schedules of many Division II athletics programs.
Division III institutions have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women, with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. There are minimum contest and participant minimums for each sport. Division III athletics features student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability and athletic departments are staffed and funded like any other department in the university. Division III athletics departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete’s experience is of paramount concern. Division III athletics encourages participation by maximizing the number and variety of athletics opportunities available to students, placing primary emphasis on regional in-season and conference competition.
College and the Student Athlete
Source: California Youth Soccer Association
One of the most important decisions a young person will make while in high school is the choice of a college to attend. If the young student is fortunate to be both academically and athletically qualified, opportunities exist to secure a college scholarship. A number of factors need to be taken into account when selecting a college:
- Local vs. away-from-home
- Commuting vs. residential campus
- Large vs. small school
- Area of academic interest
- And of course the cost
The student who possesses recognized soccer abilities and skills has additional opportunities. College coaches are constantly on the lookout for new prospects. Oftentimes you will find coaches at tournaments viewing any number of players. As a prospective college player, it is of utmost importance that you do a thorough investigation of potential colleges and that you are identified as early as possible. Important vehicles for showcasing your abilities include tournaments, club soccer, high school soccer, and the Olympic Development Program. Many coaches begin identifying potential prospects in a player’s junior year of high school.
A possible course of action for the prospective college player should include the following:
1) Do a thorough review of potential colleges you would like to attend using the factors described above.
2) Prepare a letter of introduction to the coach at your colleges of interest; this letter would include such things as a player profile describing:
- Your name, address, and telephone number
- High school and club team
- Grade point average, SAT scores and academic interests
- Player position
- Athletic and academic awards
This letter should be sent during the junior year and again at the beginning of the senior year. You should also include a schedule of tournament and club and high school league games so that a coach can have an opportunity to see you on as many occasions as possible.
3) Follow up by personally contacting coaches at the colleges in which you are interested: introduce yourself and listen to their program description. Visit colleges of interest.
4) Continue to improve your grade point average. Coaches would rather not invest in a player who has a marginal grade point average who risks their eligibility once in college.
And remember: a college coach will have the above type of interchange with you and at least 25 other prospects. Being prepared academically, athletically, and organizationally will enhance your possibilities as a college player prospect.
Useful Links and Resources
This section is for players (and their parents, coaches and managers) who are considering playing soccer in college.
When teams have high school-age players who are thinking about playing soccer in college, teams can usually ask their club/coaches for more information on Player Profiles
The Player Profile should be a one-page document in a word processing format (e.g., .doc, or .rtf) or in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf).
The content should include personal information on the player, including contact information. The contact information can include the player’s family and the coach. Be sure to provide a way to contact your coach so that a “coach to coach” assessment can be given.
You also want to include some academic information (school, year of graduation, GPA and PSAT/SAT), team accomplishments and individual player accomplishments.
Content of Player Profile
Optional: Player Photograph (.jpg format)
Date of Birth:
Address (Street, City, State, ZIP):
Parent’s Address (Street, City, State, ZIP):
Parent’s Home/Work Phone:
Class (Soph, Jr., Sr.):
High School Address (Street, City, State, ZIP):
GPA (Also indicate scale, such as 3.85/4.0):
Class Rank (Also indicate class size, such as 23/645):
SAT Scores: Math: Verbal: Composite:
ACT Scores: English: Math: Reading: Science: Composite:
Possible college major(s):
Honors: (List any high school academic honors you have received and year(s) received)
ODP/State Select Level (District, State Pool, State Team, Regional Team):
High School Team:
Honors: (Varsity Letters, All-Area, All-Conference, etc. and year(s) received)
General NCAA Information Links for NCAA Regulations and Guidelines
The NCAA produces a very useful guide entitled The College Bound Student Athlete, that provides a great amount of information for players planning to play soccer at the collegiate level. All prospective players and their parents should read this manual prior to the recruiting process.
All prospective college athletes need to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse. The main pages for the Clearinghouse can be found at:
The NCAA offers numerous on-line brochures to answer questions regarding eligibility requirements, recruiting, academic qualifications and a wealth of other resources.
Links to these brochures can be found by clicking here
Contacting the Clearinghouse. You may contact the Clearinghouse at:
Customer Service: 877-262-1492 (toll free in the USA)
24-hour Voice Response: 877-861-3003 (toll free in the USA)
301 ACT Drive
P.O. Box 4044
Iowa City, IA 52243-4044