A commitment to academics and student-athlete success in the classroom is a vital part of the NCAA’s mission to integrate athletics into the fabric of higher education. The NCAA pledges to help student-athletes achieve their academic goals as well as their athletics goals.
Academics are the primary focus for Division III student-athletes. The division minimizes the conflicts between athletics and academics and keeps student-athletes on a path to graduation through shorter practice and playing seasons, the number of contests, no redshirting and regional competition that reduces time away from academic studies. Student-athletes are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the general student-body, keeping them focused on being a student first.
Division III is engaged in division-wide discussions about implementing an Academic Success Rate in the near future. The NCAA has collected and reported graduation rates since 1991 for all students (using the six-year federal methodology) and for all student-athletes receiving athletically related financial aid.
While Division III students have been included in this process, a separate report on student-athletes in Division III has been absent because the division does not award athletics grants-in-aid. While many Division III institutions and conferences have tracked the academic success of their student-athletes, they have used a variety of criteria (for example, graduation, grade-point average, class rank).
However, Division III recently completed a two-year pilot academic-reporting program that produced data from a representative sample showing that student-athletes graduate at higher rates than those of their student-body peers. Division III members will decide soon whether a division-wide academic reporting structure that produces an annual Academic Success Rate is appropriate.