Useful Notes: NCAA

The NCAA, or the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is the primary organization for college level athletics in the United States. Founded in 1906 as a result of a plea by President Theodore Roosevelt to reform college football as the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, the organization now organizes and regulates events, scholarships, and recruiting in a number of sports in the US (as well as Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada) at all levels.

Sports Officially Sanctioned by the NCAA

These sports have official NCAA championship events. Unless otherwise indicated, all sports have separate championships for men and women.
  • Basketball
  • Baseball (men's)
  • Softball (women's)
  • Football (men's)
    • Note that the top level of college football, Division I FBS, does not have an NCAA-sanctioned championship. The second-level Division I FCS, on the other hand, does have one, as do Divisions II and III (see "Structure" below).
  • Cross Country
  • Field Hockey (women's)
  • Bowling (women's)
  • Golf
  • Fencing (coeducational)
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing (women's)
  • Volleyball i.e., indoor volleyball
  • Beach Volleyball (women) The newest official NCAA sport, with the first championship taking place in May 2016.
  • Ice Hockey
  • Rifle (coeducational)
  • Tennis
  • Skiing (coeducational)
  • Track and Field
    • The NCAA holds separate championships for the indoor and outdoor forms of the sport, with the indoor championships in winter and outdoor championships in spring.
    • Also, while the NCAA considers cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track to be separate sports, it combines all three for purposes of scholarship limits in Divisions I and II. In other words, schools are limited to a certain number of scholarships for track and cross country combined.note 
  • Pool Sports
    • Competitive Swimming
    • Competitive Diving The NCAA considers swimming and diving to be a single sport.
    • Water Polo
  • Wrestling (men's)

But Wait, There's More! In addition to these, the NCAA also recognizes certain sports as "emerging sports" for women. Unlike the sports listed above, these do not have NCAA-organized championship events. (They do have championship events run by other bodies.)
  • Equestrianism
  • Rugby
  • Triathlon

Structure

Each sport is subdivided into "Divisions" which denote level of play. The number of divisions and qualifications for them differ from sport to sport. See the page on the NCAA on The Other Wiki for more details. The basic divisions are:
  • Division I The highest level, with the greatest numbers of scholarships.note  Football is subdivided into FBS (top level) and FCS; see Collegiate American Football Conferences or The Other Wiki for more details.
  • Division II Mostly smaller schools that still wish to award athletic scholarships, but in considerably smaller numbers than in Division I.
  • Division III Does not allow athletic scholarships, periodnote . Generally, these schools strongly emphasize academics over athletics, and treat athletics as just another student activity.
Aside from the Divisional Structure, NCAA teams are, in the vast majority of cases, members of athletic conferences. These conferences often act as member leagues of the NCAA, and usually organize their own meetings and tournaments, as well as their own rules for member schools. While there are a few schools that remain independent, the vast majority of schools join due to the added benefits (scheduling, scholarships, postseason and tournament play) that conferences bring. Additionally, for these reasons it is not uncommon for a school to be a member of a conference for one sport, but a member of a different one for another. This most often happens for one of two reasons, which sometimes overlap:
  • A sport has a limited number of schools sponsoring it. For example, ice hockey is highly regionalized, with sponsoring schools almost all being in areas with cold winters. Because of this, the only Division I all-sports conferencenote  that sponsors the sport for either sex is the Big Ten, which only runs a men's league. As a result, hockey has its own set of conferences separate from the all-sports structure.
  • A school sponsors a sport that its main conference does not. This is not just the case in ice hockey, but in many more widely sponsored NCAA sports. For example, the Big 12, Mountain West, and SEC sponsor soccer for women but not for men. The schools in these conferences that have men's soccer teams house them in other all-sports conferences that do operate men's soccer leagues.note