Division I (NCAA)

Division I (NCAA)
Main logo used by the NCAA in Division I, II, and III.

Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools are generally the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities, and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III. This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA, in contrast to the College Division; this terminology was replaced with numeric divisions (I, II, III) in 1973.[1] In football only, Division I was further subdivided in 1978 into Division I-A (the principal football schools) and Division I-AA;[2] these were renamed "Football Bowl Subdivision" and "Football Championship Subdivision" in 2006.[3][4] Subsequently, "Division I-AAA" has been used by some for Division I schools that field no football program at all.[5] Division I contains 346 institutions. There is a moratorium on any additional movement up to Division I until 2012.

All Division I schools must field athletes in at least seven sports for men and seven for women or six for men and eight for women, with two team sports for each sex.[6] There are several other NCAA sanctioned minimums and differences that distinguish Division I from Divisions II and III.[6]


Scholarship limits by sport

The NCAA imposes limits on the total financial aid each Division I member may award in each sport that the school sponsors. It divides sports that it sponsors into two types for purposes of scholarship limitations:

  • "Head-count" sports, in which the NCAA limits the total number of individuals that can receive athletic scholarships, but allows each player to receive up to a full scholarship.
  • "Equivalency" sports, in which the NCAA limits the total financial aid that a school can offer in a given sport to the equivalent of a set number of full scholarships. Roster limitations may or may not apply, depending on the sport.

The term "counter" is also key to this concept. The NCAA defines a "counter" as "an individual who is receiving institutional financial aid that is countable against the aid limitations in a sport."[7]

The number of scholarships that Division I members may award in each sport is listed below.

Head-count sports

Equivalency sports


  • Baseball – 11.7,[12] with the following additional limitations:
    • A limit of 27 total counters.[12]
    • A requirement that each counter receive athletic aid equal to at least 25% of a full scholarship.[13]
  • FCS football – 63, with limits of 30 initial counters per year and 85 total counters[14]
  • Gymnastics – 6.3[15]
  • Rifle (coeducational, but classified as a men's sport) – 3.6[15]
  • Tennis – 4.5[15]
  • Volleyball – 4.5[15]
  • Wrestling – 9.9[15]


Both sexes

Rules for multi-sport athletes

The NCAA also has rules specifying the sport in which multi-sport athletes are to be counted, with the basic rules being:[19]

  • Anyone who participates in football is counted in that sport, even if he does not receive financial aid from the football program. An exception exists for players at non-scholarship FCS programs who receive aid in another sport.[20]
  • Participants in basketball are counted in that sport, unless they also play football.
  • Participants in men's ice hockey are counted in that sport, unless they also play football or basketball.
  • Participants in both men's swimming and diving and men's water polo are counted in swimming and diving, unless they count in football or basketball.
  • Participants in women's volleyball are counted in that sport unless they also play basketball.
  • All other multi-sport athletes are counted in whichever sport the school chooses.


Division I athletic programs generated $8.7 billion in revenue in the 2009-2010 academic year. Men's teams provided 55% of the total, women's teams 15%, and 30% was not categorized by sex or sport. Football and men's basketball are usually the only sports that are profitable for universities, with others usually losing money.[21] The BYU Cougars, for example, in 2009 had revenue of $41 million and expenses of $35 million, resulting in a profit of $5.5 million or about 16% margin. Football (60% of revenue, 53% profit margin) and men's basketball (15% of revenue, 8% profit margin) were profitable; women's basketball (less than 3% of revenue) and all other sports were unprofitable.[22]


Subdivisions in Division I exist only in football.[4][23] In all other sports, all Division I conferences are equivalent. The subdivisions were recently given names to reflect the differing levels of football play in them. Additionally, some sports, most notably ice hockey[24] and men's volleyball, have completely different conference structures that operate outside of the normal NCAA sports conference structure.

The method by which the NCAA determines whether a school is Bowl or Championship subdivision is first by attendance numbers and then by scholarships.[25]

For attendance reporting methods, the NCAA allows schools to report either total tickets sold or the number of persons in attendance at the games. They require a minimum average of 15,000 people in attendance every other year.[25] These numbers get posted to the NCAA statistics website for football each year. With the new rules starting in the 2006 season, the number of Bowl Subdivision schools could drop in the future if those schools are not able to pull in enough fans into the games. Additionally, 8 schools in the Championship subdivision had enough attendance to be moved up in 2005 (although they would need to either compete as independents or join a conference in order to do so).

Football Bowl Subdivision

NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football, formerly known as Division I-A, is the only NCAA-sponsored sport without an organized tournament to determine its champion.[26] Schools in Division I FBS compete in post-season bowl games, with the champions of six conferences receiving automatic bids to the Bowl Championship Series to determine a national champion. This is due to many factors, including that bowl games are sanctioned by the NCAA (primarily in terms of amateurism regulations and guaranteeing a minimum payout to conferences of the participating schools), but are not under its direct administration.

The remaining five conferences, often referred to as "Mid-majors",[27][28] do not receive automatic bids but their conference champions are eligible for an automatic bid if it ranks in the BCS top 12 or in the top 16 and ahead of the champion from a conference with an automatic bid. Only one "mid-major" champion can qualify for an automatic bid in any year. The one exception is Notre Dame, which only has to rank in the top eight of the BCS standings to earn an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game.[29]

FBS schools are limited to a total of 85 football players receiving financial assistance.[30] For competitive reasons, a student receiving partial scholarship counts fully against the total of 85. Nearly all FBS schools that are not on NCAA probation give 85 full scholarships.

As of 2011, there are 120 full members of Division I FBS. The most recent addition to FBS was Western Kentucky University, which ended its two-year transition period from Division I FCS in 2008 and became a full FBS member in 2009.[31] In July 2011, four schools began transitions to FBS, starting as FCS members. Under NCAA rules, these schools will be ineligible for the FCS playoffs in 2011. In 2012, they will be provisional FBS members without bowl eligibility, with full FBS membership following in 2013.

  • The University of South Alabama, previously an unclassified NCAA football program, is playing its first fully competitive season in 2011. The Jaguars, already full members of the Sun Belt Conference, will join that conference for football.
  • Texas State University–San Marcos (Texas State), previously an established FCS program in the Southland Conference, will join the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. Despite playing a full Southland Conference schedule in 2011, the Bobcats are classified as an FCS independent for that season.
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), previously a non-football member of the Southland Conference, is playing its first football season in 2011, and will join the WAC alongside Texas State in 2012. The Roadrunners are also classified as an FCS independent for 2011.
  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), a member of the non-football Atlantic 10 Conference and a football member of the Colonial Athletic Association, will join the Mid-American Conference in football only effective in 2012. The team will become eligible for the MAC championship upon attaining full FBS membership in 2013. In 2011, the Minutemen are playing a full CAA schedule and are technically classified as a CAA member.

Any conference with at least 12 football teams may split its teams into two divisions and conduct a championship game between the division winners.[32][33] The prize is normally a specific bowl game bid for which the conference has a tie-in, or a guaranteed spot in the BCS (depending on the conference).

Some conferences have numbers in their names but this often has no relation to the number of member institutions in the conference. The Big Ten Conference did not formally adopt the "Big Ten" name until 1987, but unofficially used that name when it had 10 members from 1917 to 1946, and again from 1949 forward. However, it has continued to use the name even after it expanded to 11 members with the addition of Penn State in 1990 and 12 with the addition of Nebraska in 2011. The Big 12 Conference was established in 1996 with 12 members, but continues to use that name even after the 2011 departure of Colorado and Nebraska left the conference with 10 members. On the other hand, the Pacific-12 Conference has used names (official or unofficial) that have reflected the number of members since its current charter was established in 1959. The conference unofficially used "Big Five" (1959–62), "Big Six" (1962–64), and "Pacific-8" (1964–68) before officially adopting the "Pacific-8" name. The name duly changed to "Pacific-10" in 1978 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State, and "Pacific-12" in 2011 when Colorado and Utah joined. Conferences also tend to ignore their regional names when adding new schools. For example, the Pac-8/10/12 retained its "Pacific" moniker even though its four newest members (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) are located in the inland West, and the Big East kept its name even after adding schools located in areas traditionally considered to be in the Midwest (Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame) or the Upper South (Louisville).


Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters
Atlantic Coast Conference ** ACC 1953 12 (14 by July 2014)[FBS 1] 25 Greensboro, North Carolina
Big East Conference ** Big East 1979[FBS 2] 16[FBS 3][FBS 4] 23 Providence, Rhode Island
Big Ten Conference ** Big Ten 1896 12 25 Park Ridge, Illinois
Big 12 Conference ** Big 12 1996 10 (9 in July 2012)[FBS 5] 21 Irving, Texas
Conference USA C-USA 1995[FBS 6] 12[FBS 7][FBS 8] 21 Irving, Texas
Division I FBS Independents[FBS 9] 4
Mid-American Conference MAC 1946 12[FBS 10] 23 Cleveland, Ohio
Mountain West Conference MW (official)
MWC (informal)
1999 8 (9 in July 2012)[FBS 11][FBS 8] 19 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pacific-12 Conference ** Pac-12 1915[FBS 12] 12[FBS 13] 22 Walnut Creek, California
Southeastern Conference ** SEC 1932 12 (14 in July 2012)[FBS 14] 20 Birmingham, Alabama
Sun Belt Conference Sun Belt 1976 12 (11 by July 2012)[FBS 15][FBS 16] 19 New Orleans, Louisiana
Western Athletic Conference WAC 1962 8 (10 in July 2012)[FBS 17] 19 Greenwood Village, Colorado

(** BCS Automatic Qualification (AQ) Conferences)

  1. ^ Pitt and Syracuse will join the ACC and leave the Big East. The effective date has yet to be determined but will be in 2014 at the latest.
  2. ^ The conference was founded in 1979, but did not sponsor football until 1991.
  3. ^ Of the 16 current Big East schools, only eight play football in the conference. Two schools sponsor football teams in the lower Football Championship Subdivision, and one plays football as an independent school. The rest do not play college football. Additionally, the conference features one associate member, Loyola University Maryland, which plays women's lacrosse in the Big East.
  4. ^ Three Big East members have announced their departure for other conferences—Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12. The effective date has yet to be determined.
  5. ^ The conference will gain one member and lose two in July 2012. Texas A&M and Missouri will leave for the SEC, while TCU will join from the MW. West Virginia has accepted an invitation to join the Big 12, but that school's arrival date is currently uncertain.
  6. ^ The conference was founded in 1995, with football competition starting in 1996.
  7. ^ In addition to the 12 full members, Conference USA features three schools—FIU, Kentucky, and South Carolina—which play men's soccer in the conference. Colorado College, a Division I school in men's ice hockey and a Division III school for all other sports, plays women's soccer in Conference USA; it filled the place left vacant by Tulane when it suspended women's soccer in 2005 due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. As Tulane has yet to resume play in that sport, Colorado College remains a C-USA affiliate in 2011; its status beyond that season is unknown.
  8. ^ a b C-USA and the MW have announced plans to merge for football only, creating a single league with 22 teams, though it would be less if any schools depart for other conferences. The unified league will launch no later than 2013.
  9. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  10. ^ In addition to the 12 full members, the Mid-American Conference features four members which only participate in one sport each: Chicago State in men's tennis, Hartwick in men's soccer, Missouri State in women's field hockey and Temple in football. UMass will become a football-only member in 2012.
  11. ^ The MW will lose one member (TCU) and gain two full members (Fresno State and Nevada) in 2012. Also in 2012, Hawaiʻi will join the MW for football only, while becoming a full member of the non-football Big West Conference.
  12. ^ The charter of the Pac-12 dates only to the formation of the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) in 1959. However, the Pac-12 claims the history of the Pacific Coast Conference, which was founded in 1915 and began competition in 1916, as its own. Of the nine members of the PCC at the time of its demise in 1958, only Idaho never joined the Pac-12. The PCC's berth in the Rose Bowl passed to the AAWU.
  13. ^ The Pac-12 also includes several associate members which compete in a single sport in the conference; San Diego State plays men's soccer and six additional schools participate in men's wrestling.
  14. ^ Texas A&M and Missouri will join from the Big 12 in July 2012. However, it has yet to be determined whether Missouri will be able to compete in the SEC in 2012–13 because of complications regarding West Virginia's announced move from the Big East to the Big 12.
  15. ^ Only nine schools in the Sun Belt Conference currently sponsor FBS football teams. South Alabama, which began playing football as an unclassified NCAA program in 2009, is competing as an FCS independent in 2011. The Jaguars will begin playing a full conference schedule in 2012 and complete their FBS transition in 2013.
  16. ^ Denver, a non-football member, announced its departure for the WAC on November 11, 2010.
  17. ^ Currently, all members of the WAC sponsor football. This will remain true through the 2011–12 academic year. Starting in July 2012, the WAC will have seven football members, with three incoming members, Denver, Seattle, and UT Arlington, not sponsoring the sport.

Football Championship Subdivision

The Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA, determines its national champion on the field in a 20-team, single-elimination tournament.[34] With the expansion of the tournament field in 2010 from 16 teams to 20, the champions of 10 conferences receive automatic bids, with 10 "at-large" spots; and the top 12 teams receive first-round byes. A team must have at least seven wins to be eligible for an at-large spot.[35][36]

The tournament traditionally begins on Thanksgiving weekend in late November, and during the era of the 16-team field ran for four weeks, ending with the championship game in mid-December. Since 2010, the tournament has run for four weeks (for seeds 13-20) to determine the two finalists, who play for the FCS national title in early January in Frisco, Texas, the scheduled host through the 2012 season. For thirteen seasons, the title game was played in Chattanooga, Tennessee, (1997–2009), preceded by five seasons in Huntington, West Virginia, where host Marshall advanced to the title game in four of the five years.[37]

When I-AA was formed in 1978, the playoffs included just four teams for its first three seasons, doubling to eight teams for one season in 1981. From 1982 to 1985, I-AA had a 12-team tournament, with each of the top four seeds receiving a first-round bye and a home game in the quarterfinals.[38] The I-AA playoffs went to 16 teams in 1986, and the FCS playoffs expanded to 20 teams starting in 2010. After 28 seasons, the "I-AA" was dropped by the NCAA in 2006, although it is still informally and commonly used.


The Football Championship Subdivision includes several conferences which do not participate in the eponymous post-season championship tournament. The Ivy League was lowered to I-AA (FCS) following the 1981 season,[39] and plays a strict ten game schedule. It has yet to participate in the post-season tournament, despite an automatic bid, citing academic concerns. The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has its own championship game in mid-December between the champions of its East and West divisions. Also three of its member schools traditionally do not finish their regular seasons until Thanksgiving weekend. Grambling State and Southern play each other in the Bayou Classic, and Alabama State plays Tuskegee University (a Division II team) in the Turkey Day Classic. SWAC teams are eligible to accept at-large bids if their schedule is not in conflict. The last SWAC team to participate in the I-AA playoffs was Jackson State in 1997; the SWAC never achieved success in the tournament, going winless in 19 games in twenty years (1978–97).

From 2006 through 2009, the Pioneer Football League and Northeast Conference champions played in the Gridiron Classic, though all conference teams technically remained tournament eligible. If a league champion was invited to the national championship, the second-place team would play in the Gridiron Classic. That game was scrapped after the 2009 season when its four-year contract ran out; this coincided with the NCAA's announcement that the Northeast Conference would get an automatic bid to the tournament starting in 2010. The Big South Conference also received an automatic bid starting in 2010.

Schools in a transition period after joining the FCS from a lower division (or from the NAIA) are also ineligible for the playoffs.


Division I FCS schools are currently restricted to giving financial assistance amounting to 63 full scholarships. As FCS football is an "equivalency" sport (as opposed to the "head-count" status of FBS football), Championship Subdivision schools may divide their allotment into partial scholarships. However, FCS schools may only have 85 players receiving any sort of athletic financial aid for football—the same numeric limit as FBS schools. Because of competitive forces, however, a substantial number of players in Championship Subdivision programs are on full scholarships. Another difference is that FCS schools are allowed to award financial aid to as many as 30 new players per season, as opposed to 25 in FBS.

A few Championship Subdivision conferences are composed of schools that offer no athletic scholarships at all, most notably the Ivy League and the Pioneer Football League, a football-only conference. The Ivy League allows no athletic scholarships at all, while the PFL consists of schools that offer scholarships in other sports but choose not to take on the expense of a scholarship football program. The Northeast Conference also sponsored non-scholarship football, but began offering a maximum of 30 full scholarship equivalents in 2006, which grew to 40 in 2011 after a later vote of the league's school presidents and athletic directors. The Patriot League does not give football scholarships, but permits them in other sports (athletes receiving these scholarships are ineligible to play football for Patriot League schools).


Conference Nickname Founded Full Members Sports Headquarters FCS Tournament Bid
Big Sky Conference Big Sky 1963 9 (11 by 2012)[FCS 1] 15 Ogden, Utah Automatic
Big South Conference Big South 1983 10[FCS 2] 18 Charlotte, North Carolina Automatic
Colonial Athletic Association CAA 1983[FCS 3] 12[FCS 4] 21 Richmond, Virginia Automatic
Division I FCS Independents [FCS 5] 3 Invitation
Great West Conference Great West 2004[FCS 6] 7 (5 by 2012)[FCS 7] 16 (15 by 2013) Elmhurst, Illinois Invitation
Ivy League Ivy League 1954 8 33 Princeton, New Jersey Automatic - (Abstains)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference MEAC 1970 13[FCS 8] 15 Virginia Beach, Virginia Automatic
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC 1985 9 (10 by 2012)[FCS 9] 1 St. Louis, Missouri Automatic
Northeast Conference NEC 1981 12[FCS 10] 23 Somerset, New Jersey Automatic
Ohio Valley Conference OVC 1948 11 (12 by 2012)[FCS 11] 17 Brentwood, Tennessee Automatic
Patriot League Patriot 1986 8[FCS 12] 23 Center Valley, Pennsylvania Automatic
Pioneer Football League PFL 1991 10 1 St. Louis, Missouri Invitation
Southern Conference SoCon 1921 12[FCS 13] 19 Spartanburg, South Carolina Automatic
Southland Conference SLC 1963 12 (10 by 2012)[FCS 14] 17 Frisco, Texas Automatic
Southwestern Athletic Conference SWAC 1920 10 18 Birmingham, Alabama Abstains
  1. ^ Cal Poly and UC Davis, currently football-only members of the Great West Conference and full members of the non-football Big West Conference, will join the Big Sky as football-only members, most likely in 2013. North Dakota and Southern Utah, also Great West football members, will become full Big Sky members in 2012.
  2. ^ The Big South has seven full members that compete for its football championship. Stony Brook of the non-football America East Conference is an associate member for that sport. Although Campbell became a full member of the Big South in July 2011, its football program remains in the Pioneer Football League.
  3. ^ The CAA football conference was only founded in 2007, but has a continuous history dating to the late 1930s (although not under the same charter):
    • The New England Conference was formed by five New England state universities, plus one private university in that region (Northeastern), in 1938. Four of the public schools—Maine, UMass, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island—are still in the CAA football conference. However, UMass football will leave the CAA for the MAC in 2012, and URI football will leave for the Northeast Conference in 2013.
    • In 1946, after the departure of Northeastern, the remaining members of the New England Conference affiliated with the University of Vermont to form the Yankee Conference under a separate charter, with athletic competition starting in 1947.
    • In 1997, the Yankee Conference was absorbed by the Atlantic 10 Conference. The A10 inherited the Yankee Conference's automatic berth in the Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs. In addition to the four charter New England Conference members mentioned above, five other members of the Yankee Conference at the time of the A10 merger are still in the CAA football conference.
    • After the 2006 season, all of the A10 football teams left for the new CAA football conference. The CAA inherited the A10's automatic berth in the FCS playoffs.
  4. ^ The CAA has 12 full members, but after Hofstra and Northeastern dropped football following the 2009 season, only four of the full members were part of the CAA football conference. The number of full CAA members that play football in that conference increased to five in 2011 with the addition of the Old Dominion football program. Another full CAA member, Georgia State, will begin CAA competition in 2012 after starting an FCS program in 2010. Currently, six associate members fill out the ranks of the CAA football conference. This latter group will drop to five in 2012 when UMass football leaves for the MAC and to four in 2013 when URI football leaves for the NEC.
  5. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used to indicate schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  6. ^ The Great West Conference was a football-only conference until 2008, when it became an all-sports conference.
  7. ^ The Conference will drop to 6 full members when South Dakota goes to the Summit League and 5 when North Dakota goes to the Big Sky Conference. The football conference has 5 teams, only two of which are full Great West members. The Great West football conference will now disband after the 2012 season, with four of its football programs set to move to the Big Sky and the other to the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
  8. ^ The football conference currently consists of 11 of the 13 member schools following the 2010 addition of North Carolina Central University.
  9. ^ South Dakota will move from the Great West to the MVFC in 2012.
  10. ^ The conference has seven full members that sponsor football. Two schools from non-football conferences are associate members for football—Albany of the America East Conference and Duquesne of the Atlantic 10.
  11. ^ The football conference consists of 9 of the 11 member schools. Morehead State plays non-scholarship football in the Pioneer Football League, while SIU Edwardsville does not sponsor football. Belmont, a non-football school with no plans to add the sport, will join the OVC in 2012.
  12. ^ Three of the full members do not sponsor FCS football. American does not sponsor football at all, while Army and Navy are FBS independents. Fordham and Georgetown are associate members in football. However, Fordham became ineligible for the conference title starting in 2010 when it started offering football scholarships, although it will play a full Patriot League schedule until at least 2012.
  13. ^ The football conference consists of 9 of the 12 member schools.
  14. ^ The football conference currently consists of 8 of the 12 member schools. Lamar, which revived its FCS football program in 2010, began playing a full conference schedule in 2011. UTSA launched an FCS football program in 2011, but is not competing in the Southland Conference. Both UTSA and Texas State will leave the conference in 2012 to join the WAC, with both schools fully transitioning to FBS football in 2013. The conference will also gain and lose non-football members in 2012, with UT Arlington leaving for the WAC and Oral Roberts joining from The Summit League.

Division I non-football schools

Several Bowl Subdivision and Championship Subdivision conferences have member institutions that do not compete in football. Such schools are sometimes unofficially referred to as I-AAA.[5] For example, the Big East Conference, a Bowl Subdivision conference in football, has five members that discontinued their football programs (DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, and St. John's), plus an additional two members who play football in Championship Subdivision conferences (Georgetown and Villanova); conference member Notre Dame plays football as a Bowl Subdivision independent.

Bowl Subdivision football independents Army and Navy compete in the Patriot League, a FCS conference, in all other sports.

In addition, some schools officially affiliated with conferences that do not sponsor football do, in fact, field football teams. For example:

The following Division I conferences do not sponsor football. These conferences still compete in Division I for all sports that they sponsor.


Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters
America East Conference America East 1979 9 22 Boston, Massachusetts
Atlantic Sun Conference A-Sun 1978 10 (9 by July 2012)[NF 1] 17 Macon, Georgia
Atlantic 10 Conference A-10 1975 14 21 Newport News, Virginia
Big West Conference Big West 1969 9 (10 by July 2012) 16 Irvine, California
Horizon League Horizon 1979 10 19 Indianapolis, Indiana
Independents [NF 2] Independents 3 (2 by July 2012)[NF 3]
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference MAAC 1980 10 25 Edison, New Jersey
Missouri Valley Conference MVC / Valley 1907 10 19 St. Louis, Missouri
The Summit League The Summit 1982 10 (9 by July 2012)[NF 4] 19 Elmhurst, Illinois
West Coast Conference WCC 1952 9 13 San Bruno, California
  1. ^ Belmont will leave for the OVC in 2012.
  2. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference, it is simply a designation used to indicate schools which are not a member of any conference.
  3. ^ The number of independents will drop by one in July 2012 when Seattle joins the WAC.
  4. ^ The conference will lose two members and gain one in 2012. Southern Utah will depart for the Big Sky Conference and Oral Roberts will leave for the Southland Conference, while Nebraska–Omaha will join The Summit League from Division II.

Of these, the two that most recently sponsored football were the Atlantic-10 and the MAAC. The A-10 football league dissolved in 2006 with its members going to the Colonial Athletic Association. In addition, four A-10 schools (Dayton, Fordham, Duquesne, and Temple) play football in a conference other than the new CAA, which still includes three full-time A-10 members (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Richmond; only Richmond will remain in 2013). The MAAC stopped sponsoring football in 2007, after most of its members gradually stopped fielding teams.

Other non-football conference schools that sponsor football include six of the Missouri Valley schools (Drake, Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri State, Northern Iowa, and Southern Illinois) and three of the Horizon League schools (Butler, Valparaiso, and Youngstown State). The Missouri Valley Football Conference is a separate entity from the Missouri Valley Conference, despite sharing a name (from 2008).

Division I in ice hockey

As ice hockey is limited to a much smaller number of almost exclusively Northern schools, there is a completely different conference structure for teams.[24] These conferences feature a mix of teams that play their other sports in various Division I conferences, and even Division II and Division III schools. With the exception of the Ivy League's hockey-playing schools being members of the ECAC, there is no correlation between a team's ice hockey affiliation and its affiliation for other sports. For example, the Hockey East men's conference consists of one ACC school, one Big East school, four schools from America East, one from the A-10, one CAA school, and two schools from the D-II Northeast Ten Conference, whereas the CCHA and WCHA both have some Big Ten representation, plus Division II and III schools. Also, the divisional structure is truncated, with Division II competition in the sport abolished in 1999.

Starting with the 2013-2014 season, Division I hockey will experience a major realignment. The Big Ten Conference will become the first regular all-sport Division I conference to sponsor hockey, with existing Big Ten schools withdrawing their membership from the WCHA and CCHA.[40] Additionally, six other schools from those conferences are withdrawing to form the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference at the same time,[41] and several other schools are expected to change conferences to replace the schools which are leaving.


Conference Nickname Founded Members (Men/Women)
Atlantic Hockey AHA 1997 12 (12/none)
Central Collegiate Hockey Association CCHA 1972 11 (11/none)
College Hockey America CHA 2002 5 (none/5)
ECAC Hockey N/A 1962 12 (12/12)
Hockey East Hockey East 1984 11 (10/8)
Independents 2 (1/1)
Western Collegiate Hockey Association WCHA 1951 13 (12/8)


In the early 21st century, a controversy arose in the NCAA over whether schools will continue to be allowed to have one showcased program in Division I with the remainder of the athletic program in a lower division, as is the case of, notably, Johns Hopkins University lacrosse as well as Colorado College and University of Alabama in Huntsville in ice hockey. This is an especially important issue in hockey, which has no Division II national championship and has several schools whose other athletic programs compete in Division II and Division III.

This controversy was resolved at the 2004 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee when the members supported Proposal 65-1, the amended legislation co-sponsored by Colorado College, Clarkson University, Hartwick College, the Johns Hopkins University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rutgers University-Newark, St. Lawrence University, and SUNY Oneonta.[42][43] Each school affected by this debate is allowed to grant financial aid to student-athletes who compete in Division I programs in one men's sport and one women's sport. It is still permitted for other schools to place one men's and one women's sport in Division I going forward, but they cannot offer scholarships without bringing the whole program into compliance with Division I rules. In addition, schools in Divisions II and III are allowed to "play up" in any sport that does not have a Division II championship, but only Division II programs and any Division III programs covered by the exemption can offer scholarships in those sports.

The Division I programs at each of the eight "waiver schools" which were grandfathered with the passing of Proposal 65-1 were:

See also


  1. ^ Crowley, Joseph N. (2006). In The Arena: The NCAA's First Century. NCAA Publications. pp. 42. http://www.ncaapublications.com/p-4039-in-the-arena-the-ncaas-first-century.aspx. 
  2. ^ "What to do with I-AA?". Football.stassen.com. http://football.stassen.com/records/notes/iaa.html. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  3. ^ "College Football Preview, 2008 Bowl Season". Collegefootballpoll.com. http://www.collegefootballpoll.com/games_preview_121108.html. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  4. ^ a b Wieberg, Steve (2006-08-03). "NCAA to rename college football subdivisions". Usatoday.Com. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2006-08-03-ncaa-subdivisions_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-19. 
  5. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  6. ^ a b "The Official Web Site of the NCAA". NCAA.org. http://www.ncaa.org/wps/ncaa?ContentID=418. Retrieved 2009-11-19. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Bylaw 15.02.3 Counter" (PDF). 2011–12 NCAA Division I Manual. NCAA. p. 192. http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/D112.pdf. Retrieved September 20, 2011.  See also Bylaw 15.5.1, pp. 202–204, for a more comprehensive discussion of when an individual becomes a "counter".
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