The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the organization through which the nation’s colleges and universities speak and act on athletics matters at the national level. It is a voluntary association of 1,265 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals devoted to the sound administration of intercollegiate athletics. In short, the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics are committed to the best interests, education and athletics participation of student-athletes. It is a membership-led association of college and universities with athletics programs committed to: Protecting the best interests of student-athletes. Presidents, athletics directors, senior woman administrators and faculty athletics representatives from member schools vote on legislation that protects the integrity of student-athletes, college sports and athletics participation against corrupting outside influences. Student-athletes have a voice in the governance of college sports through committees at the campus, conference and national levels. The safety of student-athletes is supported through playing rules, research and recommended sports-medicine policy. Time demands on student-athletes from their sport are limited both during the week and by the length of the season through NCAA bylaws.
NCAA Division III (D3) is where the true student-athlete studies and competes. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the main governing body of collegiate sports, dividing levels of classification into three divisions. D3 institutions are largely regarded as leading academic institutions and do not offer athletic scholarships. Still, athletics in D3 is highly competitive. There are over 136,000 athletes at over 430 D3 colleges and universities and each one is studying to earn a valuable degree in preparation for the workplace while playing the sport that he or she loves.
For D3 athletes, sports have been an integral part of their lives since youth. From elementary school through high school, sports have complemented the educational experience.
- Athletes at D3 colleges and universities receive no financial aid on the basis of athletic merit, although substantial financial aid and academic merit scholarships are available at most D3 institutions.
- D3 schools place highest priority on the overall educational experience; athletics is a complement to academics and overall residential experience.
- D3 student-athletes are well rounded and take advantage of extracurricular activities in college. At the D1 and D2 levels, athletics are a student's life and they have limited availability to college life outside of their respective sport.