To give you a sense of scale and how the divisions relate, about 176,000 student athletes play in Division I. Division II has somewhat more than 118,000 student-athletes, whereas Division III has slightly less than 188,000 student-athletes on its different rosters. And it only includes the NCAA divisions. There are also other non-NCAA divisions such as the NAIA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) for university athletes.
So, overall, there are around 395,000 students enrolled in institutions across the United States who play intercollegiate sports. This does not include high school athletes who may or may not continue on to college athletics. However, it does include many professional athletes who have been given a "graduate" status by their colleges or universities after they have graduated.
The number of women involved in Division I athletics is much higher than that of men. There are about 722 women's teams compared to about 564 men's teams.
However, the number of men participating in Division I athletics is growing rapidly while that of women is stagnating or declining in some cases. In 2004-05, there were about 191,000 male athletes and about 156,000 female athletes at Division I schools. That means there was a total of 337,000 people participating in Division I athletics that season.
The Distinction Between College Division Levels The NCAA lists 351 Division I institutions, 308 Division II colleges, and 443 Division III schools. To give you a sense of scale and how these divisions relate, the Division I level has around 176,000 student-athletes. The Division II level has about 122,000 students-athletes. And the Division III level includes over 70,000 athletes.
These numbers may surprise you: only 4% of college students play varsity sports. That's because most people don't have the time or interest to devote to a sport that doesn't lead to any professional career opportunities.
But it's not just about the number of players involved. It's also about the quality of those games. In other words, even if only 1 in 10 students played sports at their school, that would still be 180 students who were actively engaged in athletic activities. And since most students participate in a few things at once (such as football and basketball), they're able to enjoy themselves even though they aren't dominating on every team they join.
In conclusion, there are more than 350 Division I universities across the United States. Most major universities have multiple teams in each division. However, not all small colleges have the same number of teams. There are generally more men's teams than women's teams, but there are some schools with equal numbers of men's and women's teams.
Division 351 The NCAA lists 351 Division I institutions, 308 Division II colleges, and 443 Division III schools. The other two divisions together have about 71,000 students-athletes.
The number of men's sports in Division I is exceeded only by the number of women's sports. There are approximately 180 men's sports available at Division I schools, while women can choose from over 200 sports events during their athletic careers.
Division I is also the highest level of competition for college football, basketball, and baseball players. In fact, almost all college athletes compete at Division I schools. Only 1 in 5 athletes at non-D1 schools will be able to turn pro after their career is finished. The remaining 4 out of 5 will need another job to pay the bills while they go to school full time.
Non-D1 schools include community colleges, which help athletes get into better universities, and private schools, which tend to have more expensive prices per year than public schools.
Almost every college athlete wants to play at a top-10 team. These are the schools that attract the most attention from potential recruits. But only about 1 in 10 athletes actually gets this opportunity. The rest must make do with what they've been given.
There are 350 institutions that are full members of 32 Division I basketball leagues, plus seven that are transitioning from NCAA Division II and one that is transitioning from NCAA Division III and is also a member of a Division I conference. That leaves 1,914 places available across the country.
The DI ranks are: Purdue (1), Duke (2), Kentucky (3), Illinois (4), North Carolina (5), Florida State (6), Maryland (7), UCLA (8), Ohio State (9), Indiana (10), Arkansas (11), Auburn (12), Texas A&M (13), Missouri (14), South Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (16), Iowa (17), West Virginia (18), Cincinnati (19), Houston (20), Memphis (21), New Mexico (22), Nevada (23), Oklahoma City (24), San Antonio (25), Seattle (26), Southern California (27), South Florida (28), Temple (29), USF (30), Virginia Tech (31), Wichita State (32).
That's one spot for every two years of college basketball, on average. There can be no more than 30 players per team, so that's around 60 slots available each year. That means around six percent of teams will be able to participate in the DI tournament each season.
There are 350 institutions that are full members of the 32 Division I basketball leagues, plus seven more that are transitioning from NCAA Division II to Division I. That's an average of about 11.5 men's basketball teams per league.
The number of schools with men's basketball programs in only one division (Division I or Division II) is much larger — there are at least 152 such institutions. So there should be at least 152 men's basketball games every season between Division I and Division II schools.
But there aren't. The most common argument against having a Division III is that it's expensive - but only if you attend games. The cost of going to a game varies by school but usually falls in the range of $10-20 per person. That means that if there were 152 games worth of attendance, each school would need to spend around $160,000 on sports tickets alone.
In reality, however, only a small fraction of D1 schools have men's basketball games worth going to. According to data from NACDA, only about 20% of D1 men's basketball games had any form of attendance greater than 100 people in 2015-16. That means that only 40 of these leagues could field a team for every actual school in that league.