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Several organizations govern college athletics.  These groups establish the rules for sports programs at the schools that belong to their associations.  They also run championships and establish eligibility requirements for the student athletes attending member schools.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the oldest and largest national sports organization in the United States.  This is the group many think of when considering college sports.  The schools in the NCAA range from the largest universities to small colleges.  They are grouped into three divisions.

Division I schools are many of the largest in the country.  Three hundred twenty-six schools—like Penn State, Boston College, and Duke University—as well as the Ivies—belong to Division I.  In general, this is the highest level of college sports, although the most competitive schools in the lower divisions may be as strong or stronger than the weaker teams in DI.  Division 1 schools can offer athletic scholarships.

Many soccer players dream of participating in Division I, but they need to carefully evaluate if they have what it takes.  DI players are typically a little bigger, stronger, and faster than players in DII and DIII.  Their skills are at the highest level.

Some of the two hundred seventy-nine Division II schools are private, but many are smaller public universities.  Still others are specialty schools, such as Colorado School of Mines.  Division II schools can also offer scholarships.  University of Central Arkansas, University of Tampa, and Assumption College are examples of DII schools.

To participate in Division I or Division II athletics, students must register and be certified by the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse.  Students can get information on registering on the NCAA website at

To read part 2 of this blog click here.

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