This might have been the 40th anniversary of Division C, or perhaps the Blue Division, had one of the ideas for naming what is today the NCAA’s largest membership division gained support in 1973. Instead, a vote to divide the Association into three divisions sparked the evolution of a unique student-athlete experience that gives special meaning today to the name that 233 schools agreed to adopt for themselves four decades ago: Division III.
Beginning September 11 and extending over 40 weeks, Division III will profile former student-athletes from 1973 or later who exemplify the division’s attributes: Proportion, Comprehensive Learning, Passion, Responsibility, Sportsmanship and Citizenship. The series, named 40-in-40, will show how these individuals followed their passions and discovered their potential during their time on Division III campuses, leading to success in pursuits ranging from the law and government to medicine to arts and sciences. Many of the individuals who will be featured were nominated for inclusion in the series by their schools. A few will be well-known; others are noteworthy for their postgraduate successes. Many truly found their life’s calling as participants in the unique Division III student-athlete experience.
Division III Timeline
August 6 — The NCAA votes at a Special Convention to reorganize into three divisions, and the first Division III championships are authorized.
November — The first Division III championship (in cross country) is conducted at Wheaton College (Illinois) and won by Ashland.
December — Wittenberg becomes the first current Division III member to claim a Division III championship, winning the first football championship game (Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl) in Phenix City, Alabama.
January — The Division III membership votes to ban financial aid based on athletics participation and to use institutional admissions standards to govern eligibility for athletics participation
March — First Division III Wrestling Championships are won by host Wilkes.
May — First Division III Outdoor Track Championships are conducted at Charleston, Illinois, and won by Ashland.
November — First Division III Soccer Championship is conducted at Wheaton College (Illinois) and won by Brockport State.
March — First Division III Swimming and Diving Championships are conducted at Allegheny College and won by Cal State Chico.
June — First Division III Golf Championships are conducted at Martin, Tennessee, and won by Wooster.
November — North Central wins the first of 15 Division III Men’s Cross Country Championships titles between 1975 and 2013 under coach Allen Carius.
May — First Division III Tennis Championships are conducted at Millsaps College, and won by Kalamazoo, claiming the first of seven titles between 1976 and 1993 under coach George Acker.
June — First Division III Baseball Championship hosted by Marietta College and won by Cal State Stanislaus.
July — Joan Lange, captain of the men’s swimming and diving team at Allegheny, becomes the first Division III woman student-athlete to receive an NCAA postgraduate scholarship.
March — North Park wins the first of five Division III Men’s Basketball Championship titles between 1978 and 1987 (three under coach Dan McCarrell and two under coach Bosko Djurickovic).
January — Division III women’s championships are approved in basketball, field hockey, swimming, tennis and volleyball.
March — Kenyon, under coach Jim Steen, begins the longest streak of consecutive team championships in any NCAA division with its first victory in the Division III Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships; the streak continues through the 2010 championships with 31 straight victories.
May — Hobart wins the first of 12 straight titles (10 under coach Dave Urick, two under coach B.J. O’Hara) as host of the first Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship (the school added a 13th title in 1993).
October — Division III Women’s Basketball Committee becomes the division’s first women’s championship committee to meet.
January — A governance plan including women’s athletics programs and services within the NCAA structure is approved.
May — Marietta wins the first of six Division III Baseball Championship titles extending through 2012. Three of the titles were won under coach Don Schaly and three under coach Brian Brewer.
November — First Division III women’s championships are conducted in field hockey (won by Trenton State and hosted by Westfield State College) and cross country [won by Central (Iowa) and hosted by Carthage College].
November — The College of New Jersey (then known as Trenton State) wins the first of 10 Division III Field Hockey Championship titles between 1981 and 2011 (two under coach Melissa Magee and eight under coach Sharon Goldbrenner-Pfluger.)
December — First Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship conducted at Maryville College (Tennessee) and won by UC San Diego.
March — First Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships (won by Williams and hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Boston) and Division III Women’s Basketball Championship (won by host Elizabethtown) are conducted.
May — First Division III Softball Championship (won by Eastern Connecticut State and hosted by The College of New Jersey) and Division III Women’s Tennis Championships (won by Occidental at Jackson, Mississippi) conducted.
May — First Divisions III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships conducted at North Central College and won by Central (Iowa).
January — Division III adopts a philosophy statement, culminating a process it initiated at the 1978 Convention to define its principles.
January — Creation of NCAA Presidents Commission approved.
March — Kenyon wins the first of 17 straight Division III Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships team titles (16 under coach Jim Steen and one under Jon Howell). It added six more titles between 2002 and 2009.
March — First Division III Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships are conducted at Bates College and won by Massachusetts-Boston.
May — The College of New Jersey wins the first Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship in Philadelphia, claiming the first of its 12 titles between 1985 and 2006.
November — First Division III Women’s Soccer Championship is conducted at State University of New York at Cortland and won by Rochester.
March — New York University’s Michael Lofton becomes the only man to win four titles in the same event (saber) at the National Collegiate Fencing Championships.
May — Principia’s Courtney Allen sweeps the singles and doubles titles at the Division III Women’s Tennis Championships to finish her career with six individual titles (singles titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987, and doubles crowns in 1984, 1986 and 1987).
March — Christopher Newport wins the first of six Division III Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championship team titles between 1988 and 1998 under coach Vince Brown.
January — Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is created.
November — Cortland State wins the first of seven Division III Women’s Cross Country Championships between 1989 and 1997 under coach Jack Daniels.
November — Washington University in St. Louis wins the first of 10 Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship titles (seven under coach Teri Clemens and three under coach Rich Luenemann) extending through 2009, including six straight titles beginning in 1991.
September — Sara Lee Corporation pledges minimum of $6 million to promote women’s intercollegiate athletics, including first Woman of the Year award.
January — Judith Sweet, director of athletics at then-Division III member UC San Diego, elected as first woman NCAA membership president.
March — Augsburg wins the first of 10 Division III Wrestling Championships team titles between 1991 and 2007 under coach Jeff Swenson.
March — Wisconsin-Oshkosh wins the first of nine Division III Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships titles (including three straight in 1994 through 1996 and again in 2004 through 2006) extending through 2013. Seven of the championships were won under coach Deb Vercauteren
December — Mount Union wins the first of 11 Division III Football Championship titles between 1993 and 2012 under coach Larry Kehres.
March — Middlebury wins the first of eight Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship titles under coach Bill Beaney, including five straight through 1999 (the team added three more consecutive titles beginning in 2004).
May — Methodist wins the first of 16 women’s golf championships team titles (three in combined Divisions II and III competition, and 13 in Division III competition), including 15 straight titles beginning in 1998.
January 13 — Membership restructuring is approved; new governance structure implemented in August. The new structure provides a more federated means of governance, along with a greater leadership role for chief executive officers.
March — Washington University in St. Louis wins the first of four straight Division III Women’s Basketball Championship titles under coach Nancy Fahey. The program added a fifth title in 2010.
March) — Wheaton (Massachusetts) wins the first of five straight Division III Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships team titles under coach Paul Souza.
January — The Division III membership approves automatic qualification of conference champions for division championships.
March — First Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship won by host Elmira.
January — Swimmer Ashley Jo Rowatt from Kenyon becomes the first NCAA Woman of the Year honoree from a Division III institution.
January — Division III delegates approve most of a landmark “Future of Division III” legislative package, including measures to create an electronic financial aid reporting process, eliminate the practice of “redshirting” and further limit playing and practice seasons.
March — Middlebury wins both the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Championships, beginning a streak of three straight sweeps of the titles.
November — Wartburg’s Missy Buttry becomes the first woman in any NCAA division to win three individual cross country titles.
November — Messiah wins both the Division III Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships, the first of four times (also in 2008, 2009 and 2012) that it swept the titles.
January — The NCAA celebrates its 100th anniversary. During the NCAA Convention, Division III delegates reaffirmed a 2004 vote to eliminate “redshirting,” amended the philosophy statement to clearly state that athletics should be conducted within institutions’ academic and cultural mission, and increased the minimum sport-sponsorship requirement from 10 to 12 sports.
February — Following discussions about the possibility of dividing or subdividing Division III, which has become the NCAA’s largest membership division, more than 80 percent of members indicate in a survey that they prefer to maintain the division’s current structure.
January — Division III presidents support steps to reshape presidents’ leadership role within Division III and to renew support for the division’s philosophy statement and promote its identity.
April — Swimmer Laura Barito of Stevens Institute of Technology becomes Division III’s second NCAA Woman of the Year honoree.
April — Cross country and track athlete Elizabeth Phillips of Washington University in St. Louis becomes Division III’s third NCAA Woman of the Year honoree.
March — Wisconsin-LaCrosse wins its 16th team title at the Division III Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, extending its record.
August 6 — Division III begins a yearlong celebration of its establishment in 1973.