NCAA divisions are in place to promote parity and level the playing field. With divisions, schools should compete against other schools of comparable size and resources. However, in today's NCAA sports climate, there can be large gaps between institutions in the same classification, particularly in Division I. For example, a school could be a member of the Big Ten while another team from its city is a member of the Midwest Conference.
The differences in athletic programs between universities lead to divisions being created so that teams do not have an easy path to the championship game. For instance, if two teams were equal in terms of their record but one was in Division II and the other in Division I, then the team in Division I would receive the advantage of playing in the tournament division. Also, schools can drop down or add programs after being admitted into the NCAA. This allows them to remain competitive even though they may not be able to provide equal resources to all of their teams.
There are two types of divisions in college basketball: geographic and conference. In geographic divisions, each school plays all others in its region; for example, there is a West Division and an East Division in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In conference divisions, each school only plays other members of the conference; for example, there is a North Division and a South Division in the Big Ten.
The NCAA has three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III. The divisions exist to promote parity and a more fair playing field in college sports. Furthermore, the establishment of divisions allows smaller schools with fewer resources to compete for championships.
In Division I football, there are 10 teams that are awarded automatic bids to the NCAA Football Championship Game. These teams are known as "Division I-A" schools. All other teams play in what is called "Division I-AA". There are no automatic spots for any other division; instead, at most 12 teams will be given access to the playoffs. Teams not chosen for the playoffs can apply to become "at-large" candidates, but only one team will be selected per conference.
In Division I basketball, there are similar differences between Division I-A and I-AA schools. Division I-A schools can have up to 25 players on their roster while I-AA schools can have no more than 14. In addition, only Division I-A schools are eligible for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Finally, in Division I-AA football, there are also just 10 programs that receive automatic bids to the championship game. However, these schools can have any number of players on their roster as long as it does not exceed 15. I-AA schools cannot have more than two players drafted into the NFL during the year.
Divisions in the NCAA Conferences are made up of schools from the same geographical area. During the course of a season, teams from the same conference compete against one another. Divisions are determined by the size of the university, the level of competition, and the sports program's finances. In general, large universities have more resources than small ones and schools in the major conferences play higher-level football than those in the smaller conferences.
The largest division in college football is Division I-A. The second largest is Division I-AA. Both contain many larger schools than any other division. There is no such thing as Division I-FB or II-FC because there are only two football divisions in college football.
Schools are assigned to divisions in several ways. If a school has fewer than six varsity sports programs, it is assigned to a division based on its location within the country. For example, schools in the West Division of the Pac-12 Conference must have at least three men's sports programs (baseball, basketball, and soccer) and one women's sport (basketball).
If a school has six or more varsity sports programs, it can be assigned to either a geographic or a power division. Geographic divisions are based on where the school is located within the United States. There are four geographic divisions: East, Midwest, South, and West.
Division I of the NCAA. Division I of the NCAA is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics overseen by the NCAA in the United States. Division I schools are the major athletic powers in college and have larger budgets, more advanced facilities, and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III or smaller schools. The term "Division I" may also refer to the highest division in many sports leagues around the world including the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.
A school can be classified as Division I if it meets any one of three requirements: it must have an annual operating budget of $20 million or greater; its graduate rate for athletes who participate in 10 or more hours per week of Division I competition must be at least 30 percent; or it must have an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the previous year. In addition, a school cannot be classified as Division I if it has been suspended or excluded from another division by the NCAA Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics for violation of its regulations.
The largest group of Division I programs are those that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). According to data collected by the NCSA, there were 2,009 FBS programs across the United States as of 2013. An additional 81 FBS teams use other conferences' schedules for most of their games but are included in the NCSA data because they receive an automatic bid to a bowl game.