Division I

Division I

Division I (or D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States.


"D-I" schools are the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities, and higher numbers of athletic scholarships. This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA in contrast to the College Division; this terminology was replaced with the current numeric (I, II, III) divisions in 1973. In football only, Division I was further subdivided into Division I-A (the principal football schools) and Division I-AA in 1978. Subsequently the term "Division I-AAA" was added to delineate Division I schools which do not field a football program at all.

A controversy recently 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 in 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 competition 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, Johns Hopkins University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rutgers University-Newark, St. Lawrence University, and SUNY Oneonta. 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.

Currently Division I contains 342 Institutions plus 5 going through the Reclassification Period. There currently is a moratorium on any additional movement up to Division I that is in effect until 2012.


Subdivisions in Division I are important only in football. In all other sports, all Division I conferences are considered equivalent. The subdivisions were recently given names to reflect the differing levels of football play in them. Additionally, some sports, most notably ice hockey 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. Although scholarships are only one of several methods for the NCAA to determine if they have some form of financial backing for the program they do look at attendance as an additional key consideration.

For attendance they either will allow the tickets sold or the number of actual people attending the season games as reporting methods. They require a minimum of 15,000 people in attendance for each home game as an average every other year. These numbers get posted to the NCAA statistics website for football each year. In the 2005 football season 14 schools were listed with an average below 15,000. With the new rules starting in the 2006 season, the amount of Bowl subdivision schools could drop in the near 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.

Football Bowl Subdivision

NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) college football is the only NCAA-sponsored sport without an organized tournament to determine its champion. Schools in Division I FBS compete in post-season bowl games, with the champions of six conferences receiving automatic bids to the highly lucrative Bowl Championship Series to determine a national champion. This is due to many factors, including tradition and certain legal decisions against the NCAA, especially with regard to the sale of television rights.

The remaining five conferences, often referred to as "Mid Majors", do not receive automatic bids but their conference champions are eligible for one of the four remaining "at-large" spots. The one exception is a small group of independents. These teams, Notre Dame in particular, have to be either ranked ahead of a champion from one of the six automatic bid conferences in the BCS standings or rank in the top eight of the BCS standings, to ensure a spot in a BCS bowl game.

The NCAA has also pushed for Division I FBS schools to be forced to schedule a minimum number of home games each season and meet attendance requirements for those games (see above). This has met with resistance from smaller conferences, whose schools often receive large amounts of money to play road games against schools from the BCS conferences.

FBS schools are currently limited to a total of 85 football players receiving financial assistance. Since for competitive reasons a student on partial scholarship counts fully against the total of 85, virtually all FBS schools that are not on NCAA probation give 85 full scholarships. The service academies—in this context, Army, Navy, and Air Force—are exempt from this rule, as all of their students receive full scholarships from the federal government.

In 2008, there are 119 full members of Division I FBS. Western Kentucky University is now in its second year of a two-year transition period from Division I FCS; it will become a full FBS member in 2009.

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


Of these, the two that most recently sponsored football were the Atlantic-10 and the Big West. 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).

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 University, Valparaiso University, and Youngstown State University). The Missouri Valley Football Conference is a separate entity from the Missouri Valley Conference, despite sharing a name (from 2008).

Division I 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. 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 Ivy Leagues' 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, two Big East schools, 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.


ee also

*College football - Maps of the United States showing locations of Division I-FBS and I-FCS schools
*List of Division I-FBS college football stadiums
*Division II
*Division III
*List of undefeated Division I football teams
*List of Division I Athletic Directors


External links

* [http://www.championshipsubdivisionnews.com/?disp=fcsmap Interactive Map Of FCS College Football Stadiums]
* [http://www.fcspreview.com/ FCS College Football Weekly Preview]
* [http://web1.ncaa.org/ssLists/orgByDiv.do?division=1 List of Division I schools at NCAA.org]
* [http://www.fcspreview.com/history.html Year-By-Year FCS Playoff Results]
* [http://www.bcsfootball.org/ Official Website for college football's Bowl Championship Series]

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