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The Division III Experience

From Jay Lemons, Chair of the Division III Presidents Council

Division III, the largest division in terms of number of schools and number of participants in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is comprised of more than 190,000 student-athletes and represents 450 colleges and universities throughout the country. Division III is also the only division that does not award athletic scholarships; however, more than 75 percent of Division III student-athletes receive financial aid or have earned a merit scholarship for academic talent and accomplishment.

The students on the intercollegiate teams of Division III member schools come to college for an education and they play for the love of the game. Our student-athletes compete not because they expect a financial reward, but because they are driven to excel. The challenge and commitment to do their best comes from within.

At the same time, student-athletes at Division III institutions share many characteristics with the much more visible scholarship athletes at Division I and II schools: they work just as hard in practice and compete just as intensely; they strive to win; and through competition, they learn lessons about discipline, leadership and teamwork. They are passionate about their sport.

Colleges and universities that subscribe to the Division III philosophy enable students to integrate – and balance – their athletics experience with academic interests and other co-curricular activities. It’s not unusual to find a star player serving as a peer mentor or starring in the school play.  It is also not unusual to see athletes take time away from their sport to study abroad.  The same drive they show on the court or field makes our student-athletes dedicated partners in student-faculty research.

Alumni who are now successful business leaders, lawyers, teachers, medical researchers, and theater directors look back on their participation in intercollegiate athletics as a critical part of their development, and something that will continue to shape them for the rest of their lives.   Their academic success was complemented by the challenges and skill sets provided through dedicated practice and competition.  Through challenges, student-athletes learned resilience, and through successes they learned humility.