Division III sports are a great way for a high school athlete to continue their career. More athletes play sports at the Division III level than Division I or II, and Division III has the most member schools, 448. However, it doesn't carry the same prestige in the national spotlight as Division I.
If you or your student-athlete is considering going the Division III route, you probably have questions about recruiting and committing, especially if all you've seen and known is the circus of Division I football recruiting. Well, there are a number of differences and two of them are fundamental to the recruiting process.
One of the most important parts of college athletics and recruitment is money. In Division I, so much of recruitment revolves around athletics scholarships. Does Division III give scholarships? The simplest answer is that Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships.
However, there are a few caveats to that. Clarkson, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins, RPI, and St. Lawrence are able to provide athletic scholarships in specific sports due to having sponsored those sports at the top level prior to the NCAA three-division model implemented in the 1970s. They have the ability to offer athletic scholarships in those original sports plus one women's sport since the NCAA did not have championships in women's sports at that time.
All five schools compete at the Division I level in those sports while they compete at the Division III level for all other sports.
- Clarkson gives scholarships for both men's and women's ice hockey.
- Colorado College gives scholarship for men's ice hockey and women's soccer.
- Johns Hopkins gives scholarship for both men's and women's fencing and men's and women's lacrosse.
- RPI has scholarships for both men's and women's ice hockey.
- St. Lawrence gives scholarship for men's and women's ice hockey and skiing.
The NCAA does note that around 75
So if Division III schools can't offer athletic scholarships, how does recruiting work? Do you still commit to a school like you would at the Division I level?
National Signing Day and Early Signing Day are a big part of Division I sports, especially football.
Is there similar pomp and circumstance in Division III athletics?
There is no official National Letter of Intent at the Division III level, but the NCAA did implement a non-binding celebratory form to recognize when student-athletes declare their intention to play for a Division III school.
The only needed steps are that the student-athlete must have been accepted to the college, and the university cannot publicize it until the student-athlete has made a financial deposit. Once those requirements have been fulfilled, the school can publicize and celebrate the student-athlete's commitment.
While Division III may not get the notoriety that Division I does, there were six graduates of Division III programs playing in the National Football League during the 2021 season. Division III football players Jake Kumerow and Quinn Meinerz out of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Dan Arnold from Wisconsin-Platteville, Ben Bartch from St. John's (MIN), Nicholas Morrow from Greenville College, and Ali Marpet from Hobart College all were drafted into the NFL.
Regardless of whether you want to go pro, Division III is a great way to continue playing sports. You just want to make sure you understand how the recruiting process goes before plunging in headfirst.