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Division II Strategic Positioning Platform

NCAA mission

To govern athletics competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount.

Who we are

Division II is a collection of more than 300 colleges and universities that conduct their athletics programs as part of the parent organization National Collegiate Athletic Association, whose mission is to govern athletics competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner, and to integrate intercollegiate athletics into higher education so that the educational experience of the student-athlete is paramount, and to position athletics as a pathway to opportunity.

The NCAA’s three-division structure was created in 1973 in order to give member institutions a more varied menu for which to classify their athletics programs. Division II gave those programs that wanted to keep their athletics budgets in good proportion to the total institutional budget a place to compete.

Division II positioning statement: “Life in the Balance”

Division II supports the educational mission of college athletics by fostering a balanced and inclusive approach in which student-athletes learn and develop through their desired academic pursuits, in civic engagement with their communities and in athletics competition. The Division II experience not only provides student-athletes the opportunity to earn scholarships based on their academic, athletic and leadership abilities, but it also offers the best championships-participant ratio among the NCAA’s three divisions, and it prioritizes preparation for life beyond graduation. Division II gives student-athletes the unique opportunity to compete in the classroom, on the field, in their career, for their causes, and on their terms.

The evolution of the brand

In 2005, Division II launched an ambitious and unique identity campaign to more clearly define what the division represented for its members. At the time, Division II was starting to be defined as the “middle division” or a classification that was “neither Division I nor Division III.” Not satisfied with that distinction, Division II members assembled a promotional campaign that emphasized Division II as a chosen destination for student-athletes who experience a “Life in the Balance” in which they excel academically, athletically, and as citizens in their communities.

As such, the tagline “I Chose Division II” became the division’s internal rallying cry for members to define who they were and what they represent. The “I Chose” brand campaign relied n Life in the Balance as a philosophical hub, around which revolved six attributes identified in a membership survey of what makes the division unique:

  • Learning: multiple opportunities to broaden knowledge and skills
  • Balance: emphasis on collective knowledge; integration of skills
  • Resourcefulness: versatile skill set drawn from broad range of experiences
  • Sportsmanship: respect for fairness; courtesy; ethical conduct toward others
  • Passion: enthusiastic dedication and desire in effort
  • Service: positive societal attitude through contributions to community

The “I Chose” campaign did wonders for Division II internally, but a membership census conducted in 2013 revealed that the tagline had run its course. In addition, a communications audit conducted at that time revealed that while Division II members understood what the division represented, external audiences not familiar with the NCAA’s three-division structure remained unclear about what distinguished Division II.

The brand enhancement: “Make It Yours”

In 2014, the division launched a brand enhancement under the slogan “Make It Yours,” a student-athlete-driven selection that personalized the Division II experience and provided a way to extend the division’s reach.

“Make It Yours” strengthens awareness among external audiences by clearly communicating the experience Division II schools create for student-athletes. It also brings the experience to life in a way that resonates with primary external audiences and also reinforces a sense of pride with internal stakeholders.

What is it that Division II is “making yours”?

  • It’s making graduation a priority
  • It’s about earning scholarship dollars for your athletic ability and competing for national championships
  • It’s making athletics participation truly part of the college experience rather than just one aspect of it
  • It’s making lifelong friends at a campus whose size affords a more intimate setting
  • It’s the university president seeing students on campus and being able to call them by name and ask how things are going
  • It’s making the academic experience more personal
  • It’s about professors, coaches and staff caring for you as a student
  • It’s about an experience in which you can be an active participant
  • It’s about a campus that is tight-knit enough to respond to individual student needs
  • It’s about having coaches who help athletes develop their resumes as much as their athletics skills
  • It’s about a custom-fit approach to athletics and education rather than a one-size-fits-all

Key benefits of the Division II experience

For student-athletes / parents

  • Participation in high-level athletics competition without overemphasizing sports in student life
  • Availability of faculty and sports staff in a personal setting
  • With the broad, versatile range of experiences, student-athletes are more likely to find interest and value in school and therefore stay to graduate
  • Upon graduation, student-athletes leave with broader experiences, skills and knowledge as resources for the future
  • With personal setting and multiple areas of learning, student-athletes can have a positive impact with peers, community and school

For Division II colleges and universities

  • Achieve educational mission and graduation success for student-athletes through a comprehensive program that provides path to graduation and develops broad skill sets
  • High-level athletics competition for institution, region, community and student-athlete without overemphasizing sports at the institution
  • Opportunity for personal mentoring, coaching, teaching with student-athletes
  • Impact local community and develop key local relationships through participation in Division II community engagement program

For the general public

  • High-level, passionate athletics competition for local communities and region in an intimate, family-friendly environment
  • Opportunities to interact face-to-face with student-athletes in different venues
  • Positive impact in local communities and region through Division II community engagement
  • Show support for educational mission of student-athletes and development of youth
  • Invest in the educational mission of student-athletes and development of youth into productive citizens

The Distinguishing Dozen:

12 characteristics that set DII apart

  1. Graduation rates. Division II student-athlete graduation rate is consistently higher than that of the total student body. Division II also features a high number of first-generation college students, thus increasing the access to education.
  2. Academic emphasis. Division II’s regionalization philosophy in scheduling results in limited missed class time for student-athletes.
  3. Athletics scholarships. The partial athletics scholarship model rewards athletics ability while allowing student-athletes to earn other sources of financial aid. A recent study on the financial impact of the partial-scholarship model and found that in general, scholarship student-athletes benefit institutions’ overall academic profile, and the partial-aid model generates revenue for the school.
  4. Balanced bottom line. The median expense for Division II athletics departments with football is roughly $6 million, while that figure is about $15 million for Division I Football Championship Subdivision programs and about $64 million for programs in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
  5. Favorable admission rates. Division II membership is split almost evenly between public and private institutions. On average, Division II schools have the highest admission rate (70 percent, versus 62-63 percent in the other two divisions).
  6. Community engagement. Through student-athlete leadership, Division II has enjoyed long-term and successful partnerships with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Team IMPACT and military groups. In addition, Division II conducts community engagement activities at all championships final sites.
  7. Positive game environment. Division II members pledge to conduct athletics contests in a family-friendly environment that is civil and entertaining.
  8. Unique geographical footprint. Division II is the only NCAA division with schools in Alaska (Anchorage and Fairbanks), Puerto Rico (Bayamon, Mayaguez and Rio Piedras) and Canada (Simon Fraser).
  9. National championship opportunities. Division II features unparalleled opportunity for student-athletes to advance to national championship competition as a result of the division’s generous championship access ratios (the highest among the three NCAA divisions).
  10. National Championships Festivals. Division II is the only NCAA division that conducts “National Championships Festivals,” an Olympic-style event in which a number of national championships are held at a single site over a period of several days
  11. Make It Yours. This student-athlete-driven brand enhancement strengthens awareness among external audiences by clearly communicating the experience Division II schools create for student-athletes.
  12. Diversity and inclusion. Matching grants encourage access, recruitment, selection, and the long-term success of ethnic minorities and women in administration and coaching.

Download the Division II 2016-17 Strategic Positioning Platform