National Collegiate Athletic Association: Background
According to the organization’s Web site, multiple injuries and deaths related to the use of the “flying wedge” formation in college football spurred the organization’s formation in 1905. That year, President Theodore Roosevelt summoned college athletic leaders to two separate White House conferences on the reform of collegiate athletics, specifically football. Later in 1905, Henry MacCracken, chancellor of New York University, convened a meeting of 13 institutions to initiate changes in the rules governing college football. At a subsequent meeting in New York on December 28, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS) was founded with 62 members. Four years later in 1910, the IAAUS took its present name.
In 1973, the NCAA’s membership was separated into three legislative divisions: divisions I, II, and III. In 1978, Division I members voted to create subdivisions I-A and I-AA in the sport of football. The NCAA began administering women’s athletics programs in 1980. A year later, at its historic 75th convention, the organization adopted an extensive governance plan to include women’s athletics programs, services, and representation. The delegates expanded the women’s championships program with the addition of 19 events.
The basic underlying distinctions between Division I, II, and III schools are the number of sports that member institution must offer and the levels of athletic scholarship awards. For example, Division I schools are the leaders in collegiate athletic programs, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities, and significantly more athletic scholarships than the other two divisions. Division II schools tend to include smaller public universities and many private institutions. Athletic scholarships are offered in most sponsored sports at most institutions, but there are more stringent limits as to the numbers offered in any one sport than at the Division I level. For example, Division II schools may give up to 36 football scholarships (whereas Division I-A, the highest level, is allowed 85 football scholarships). Division III schools range in size from less than 500 to over 10,000 students. Division III schools compete in athletics as a non–revenue-making, extracurricular activity for students; for this reason, they may not offer athletic scholarships but only academic and need-based financial aid to their student-athletes.
Similar to the separate legislative divisions, the NCAA also offers four categories of membership, each with different requirements, voting rights, and dues payments. These categories are active membership, conference membership, affiliated membership, and corresponding membership. Of the four, active membership schools are eligible to compete in NCAA championships in their respective divisions and have a single vote on NCAA legislation.