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Special Olympics Partnership

The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) initiated the partnership at the 2011 NCAA Convention and officially launched the partnership on August 1, 2011.  The purpose of the partnership is to enhance the lives of Division III student-athletes and Special Olympics athletes through a mutual learning experience; provide a platform for recognition of Special Olympics athletes and Division III student-athletes within their communities; and raise awareness of Special Olympics, its programs and services.

Through this partnership, Division III student-athletes across the country are encouraged to participate in existing Special Olympics events, create their own events, or otherwise serve to support Special Olympics organization. The activities pursued by student-athletes will vary in each state and region, tailored to best utilize the student-athletes' time and local resources.  Service activities with Special Olympic athletes range from unified events to sports clinics to bowling as well as pizza parties or fundraising efforts. 

This partnership provides the opportunity for student-athletes to engage with Special Olympics and collaborate with existing student-led programs on campus.  It also serves as another opportunity to demonstrate the citizenship and comprehensive learning attributes of Division III student-athletes. Student-athletes giving back to their local (and often national and international) communities not only adds to the comprehensive learning component of Division III, but also provides a venue for passion and service

October 2019 Special Olympics Poll

Special Olympics Spotlight Winner - September 2019

After 792 total votes, Bryn Athyn athletics takes part in NCAA Division III Special Olympics 50 for 50th Challenge won the September Special Olympics Spotlight Poll by gathering nearly 65%  (520) of the total votes. The Lions will receive $500 to use for their next Special Olympics event

To submit a story for consideration, please email

Special Olympics 50 for 50th

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics and in celebration of the Division III partnership, Division III and Special Olympics have joined forces to present 50 profiles honoring the unified work of the NCAA, Division III and Special Olympics. Use the hashtag #d3SO50for50th for more profiles and on any Division III/Special Olympics activities.

Read the profiles and more >
DIII Special Olympics profile: Eric Panetta

Eric Panetta loves to crush it on the basketball court and the soccer field in front of roaring crowds. Since 2013, Panetta has participated as a Special Olympics New Jersey athlete with Rowan University’s Special Olympics Unified Sports intramural leagues.

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Past Spotlight Winners