The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes. NCAA schools award nearly $3.5 billion in athletics scholarships every year and provide vast support to help student-athletes graduate at a rate higher than their general student peers.
Nearly 500,000 college athletes across all three divisions compete for about 1,100 member schools in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and even Canada. Regardless of where they start, student-athletes strive to end each season at one of the NCAA’s 90 championships in 24 sports.
The employees at the NCAA’s national office oversee all championships, manage programs that benefit student-athletes and support member committees that make rules and policies for college sports. Member schools and conferences ultimately decide which rules to adopt for their division — everything from recruiting and compliance to academics and championships.
The NCAA’s diverse members include schools ranging in size from those with hundreds of students to those with tens of thousands. The NCAA’s current three-division structure was adopted in 1973 to create a fair playing field for teams from similar schools and provide college athletes more opportunities to participate in national championships.
Among the three NCAA divisions, Division I schools generally have the biggest student bodies, manage the largest athletics budgets and offer the highest number of athletics scholarships. Division II provides growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletics competition and a focus on service to the community. The Division III experience offers participation in a competitive athletics environment that pushes college athletes to excel on the field and build upon their potential by tackling new challenges across campus.