The NCAA, the major governing body for intercollegiate sports, separates its member institutions by divisions. Division I colleges are generally the biggest. They have the largest athletic department budgets and their sports teams generate the most revenue. All of the schools that participate in bowl games and March Madness are Division I schools. However, there are some regional colleges and smaller private schools you may not be familiar with that are also classified as Division I. In this article, I’ll give you a basic understanding of Division I and a complete list of current Division I schools by state.
UPDATE: NCAA Changes Due to COVID-19
As a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, NCAA has made temporary changes to player eligibility. First, prospective Division I and Division II players initially enrolling during the 2021/2022 academic year don't need to submit ACT or SAT scores. Their academic eligibility will only be based on their GPA. Additionally, the NCAA is granting spring and fall 2020 athletes an additional year of eligibility and season of competition. You can find more NCAA Division I updates here.
Why Are There NCAA Divisions?
NCAA Divisions exist to create parity and level the playing field. With divisions, schools should be competing against other schools of a similar size and with similar resources. However, in the climate of today's NCAA sports, there can be huge disparities between schools in the same division, especially in Division I.
For example, from 2006-2011, the athletics revenue for the University of Alabama was $124,498,616. During that same period, the athletics revenue for Alabama State University was $10,614,081. Both are Division I schools.
What Makes Division I Unique?
Compared to NCAA Division II and III schools, NCAA Division I schools have the biggest student bodies, the largest athletic budgets, and the most athletic scholarships.
All of the major sports conferences, including the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC, are composed of Division I colleges.
While Ivy League colleges are Division I, they don't offer athletic scholarships.
Division I Fun Facts
- Stanford University has the most Division I NCAA championships with 126.
- On average, only 4% of the student bodies at Division I schools participate in NCAA sports.
- Stanford has won the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup awarded to the most successful Division I athletics program every year since 1994-1995.
- The University of Oregon won the very first NCAA men's basketball championship in 1939.
- Louisiana Tech won the very first NCAA women's basketball championship in 1982.
The 1982 Louisiana Tech women's basketball team
How Should You Use This List?
If there's a college you're considering, you can determine if it's a Division I institution. If you're interested in a particular sport, check to see which colleges are Division I in that sport. Some schools are Division I in one or two sports and Division II or III in the rest. For example, Colorado College is Division I in men's ice hockey and women's soccer, but the rest of their varsity sports are Division III.
If you're interested in football, you should also check to see if a particular school is FBS, FCS, or if it even has a football program.
Division I Colleges By State
District of Columbia
University of Hawaii, Manoa
University of Maine
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
University of Vermont
University of Wyoming
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Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.