NCAA Division I logo

NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which accepts players globally. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA, in contrast to the lower-level College Division; these terms were replaced with numeric divisions in 1973. The University Division was renamed Division I, while the College Division was split in two; the College Division members that offered scholarships or wanted to compete against those who did became Division II, while those who did not want to offer scholarships became Division III.[1]

For college football only, D-I schools are further divided into the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and those institutions that do not have any football program. FBS teams have higher game attendance requirements and more players receiving athletic scholarships than FCS teams. The FBS is named for its series of postseason bowl games, with various polls ranking teams after the conclusion of these games, while the FCS national champion is determined by a multi-team bracket tournament.

For the 2020–21 school year, Division I contained 357 of the NCAA's 1,066 member institutions, with 130 in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), 127 in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and 100 non-football schools, with six additional schools in the transition from Division II to Division I.[2][3] There was a moratorium on any additional movement up to D-I until 2012, after which any school that wants to move to D-I must be accepted for membership by a conference and show the NCAA it has the financial ability to support a D-I program.

D-I schools

Schools must field teams in at least seven sports for men and seven for women or six for men and eight for women, with at least two team sports for each gender.[4][5] Teams that include both men and women are counted as men's sports for the purposes of sponsorship counting.[4] Division I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Division I school cannot exceed.[6] Several other NCAA sanctioned minimums and differences distinguish Division I from Divisions II and III.[5] Members must sponsor at least one sport (not necessarily a team sport) for each sex in each playing season (fall, winter, spring), again with coeducational teams counted as men's teams for this purpose.[7] There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. For sports other than football and basketball, Division I schools must play 100 percent of the minimum number of contests against Division I opponents—anything over the minimum number of games has to be 50 percent Division I. Men's and women's basketball teams have to play all but two games against Division I teams; for men, they must play one-third of all their contests in the home arena.[8]

In addition to the schools that compete fully as D-I institutions, the NCAA allows D-II and D-III schools to classify one men's and one women's sport (other than football or basketball) as a D-I sport, as long as they sponsored those sports before the latest rules change in 2011.[9] Also, Division II schools are eligible to compete for Division I national championships in sports that do not have a Division II national championship, and in those sports may also operate under D-I rules and scholarship limits.[10]


For football only, Division I was further subdivided in 1978 into Division I-A (the principal football schools), Division I-AA (the other schools with football teams), and Division I (those schools not sponsoring football).[11][12] In 2006, Division I-A and I-AA were renamed "Football Bowl Subdivision" (FBS) and "Football Championship Subdivision" (FCS), respectively.

FBS teams are allowed a maximum of 85 players receiving athletically based aid per year, with each player on scholarship receiving a full scholarship. FCS teams have the same 85-player limit as FBS teams, but are allowed to give aid equivalent to only 63 full scholarships. FCS teams are allowed to award partial scholarships, a practice technically allowed but essentially never used at the FBS level. FBS teams also have to meet minimum game attendance requirements (average 15,000 people in actual or paid attendance per home game), while FCS teams do not need to meet minimum attendance requirements.

Another difference is postseason play. Since 1978, FCS teams have played in an NCAA-sanctioned bracket tournament culminating in a title game, the NCAA Division I Football Championship, to determine a national champion. Meanwhile, FBS teams play in bowl games, with various polls ranking teams after the conclusion of these games, yielding a Consensus National Champion annually since 1950. Starting with the 2014 postseason, a four-team College Football Playoff has been contested, replacing a one-game championship format that had started during the 1992 postseason with the Bowl Coalition. Even so, Division I FBS football remains the only NCAA sport in which a yearly champion is not determined by an NCAA-sanctioned championship event.


Division I athletic programs generated $8.7 billion in revenue in the 2009–2010 academic year. Men's teams provided 55%, women's teams 15%, and 30% was not categorized by sex or sport. Football and men's basketball are usually a university's only profitable sports,[13] and are called "revenue sports".[14] From 2008 to 2012, 205 varsity teams were dropped in NCAA Division I – 72 for women and 133 for men, with men's tennis, gymnastics and wrestling hit particularly hard.[15]

In the Football Bowl Subdivision (130 schools in 2017), between 50 and 60 percent of football and men's basketball programs generated positive revenues (above program expenses).[16] However, in the Football Championship Subdivision (124 schools in 2017), only four percent of football and five percent of men's basketball programs generated positive revenues.[17]

In 2012, 2% of athletic budgets were spent on equipment, uniforms and supplies for male athletes at NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school, with the median spending per-school at $742,000.[18]

In 2014, the NCAA and the student athletes debated whether student athletes should be paid. In April, the NCAA approved students-athletes getting free unlimited meals and snacks. The NCAA stated "The adoption of the meals legislation finished a conversation that began in the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet. Members have worked to find appropriate ways to ensure student-athletes get the nutrition they need without jeopardizing Pell Grants or other federal aid received by the neediest student-athletes. With their vote, members of the council said they believe loosening NCAA rules on what and when food can be provided from athletics departments is the best way to address the issue."[19]


Under NCAA regulations, all Division I conferences defined as "multisport conferences" must meet the following criteria:[20]


Men's team sports

No. Sport Teams[22] Conferences Scholarships
per team
Season Most Championships
1 Football 257
(130 FBS, 127 FCS)
(10 FBS, 14 FCS)
85 (FBS)
63.0 (FCS)
Fall Princeton (28)
2 Basketball 351 32 13 Winter UCLA (11)
3 Baseball 302 32 11.7 Spring USC (12)
4 Soccer 204 23 9.9 Fall St. Louis (10)
5 Wrestling 79 7 9.9 Winter Oklahoma State (34)
6 Ice Hockey 61 6 18.0 Winter Michigan (9)
7 Lacrosse 68 10 12.6 Spring Syracuse (10)
8 Volleyball 23 4 4.5 Spring UCLA (19)
9 Water Polo 22 4 4.5 Fall California (13)

Sports are ranked according to total possible scholarships (number of teams x number of scholarships per team). Scholarship numbers for head-count sports are indicated without a decimal point. Numbers for equivalency sports are indicated with a decimal point, with a trailing zero if needed.


The NCAA officially classifies the men's championships in volleyball and water polo as "National Collegiate" championships, that being the designation for championships that are open to members of more than one NCAA division. The ice hockey championship, however, is styled as a "Division I" championship because of the previous existence of a separate Division II championship in that sport.
  • Football — D-I football programs are divided into FBS and FCS. The 128 FBS programs can award financial aid to as many as 85 players, with each player able to receive up to a full scholarship. The 124 FCS programs can award up to the equivalent of 63 full scholarships, divided among no more than 85 individuals. Some FCS conferences restrict scholarships to a lower level or prohibit scholarships altogether.
  • Soccer — The Big 12 and the SEC are the only two major traditional D-I conferences that do not sponsor soccer. Several other D-I conferences also do not sponsor the sport—the Big Sky, MEAC, Mountain West, Ohio Valley, Southland, and SWAC.
  • Ice Hockey — Almost all D-I ice hockey programs are in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest, or the Colorado Front Range. Only one D-I all-sports conference, the Big Ten, sponsors a men's hockey league. All other conferences operate as hockey-specific leagues. Of the 61 teams that will compete in D-I hockey in 2020–21, 23 are otherwise classified as either D-II or D-III; a number of schools from D-II play in D-I ice hockey as the NCAA no longer sponsors a championship in D-II and many have traditional/cultural fan bases that support ice hockey, and the D-III schools were "grandfathered" in to D-I through their having sponsored hockey prior to the creation of D-III.
  • Lacrosse — The vast majority of D-I lacrosse programs are from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. There are only three D-I programs west of the Mississippi—Air Force and Denver on the Colorado Front Range, and Utah.
  • Volleyball — Of the traditional D-I conferences, only the Big West sponsors men's volleyball, and it did not do so until the 2017–18 school year. Two of the other three major volleyball conferences, defined here as leagues that include full Division I members, are volleyball-specific conferences; the third is the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, a multi-sport conference that does not sponsor football or basketball. In addition to the D-I schools, 32 D-II schools will compete in the National Collegiate division in 2020–21; nine of these are members of Conference Carolinas, the first all-sports league outside Division III to sponsor the sport, and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will start play in 2020–21 with six newly launched teams.
  • Water Polo — The number of D-I schools sponsoring men's water polo has declined from 35 in 1987/88 to 22 in 2010/11.

    The following table lists the men's individual DI sports with at least 1,000 participating athletes. Sports are ranked by number of athletes.

    No. Sport Teams (2015)[24] Teams (1982)[24] Change Athletes[24] Season
    1 Track (outdoor) 278 230 +48 11,067 Spring
    2 Track (indoor) 257 209 +48 10,174 Winter
    3 Cross country 311 256 +56 4,845 Fall
    4 Swimming & diving 134 181 –47 3,839 Winter
    5 Golf 297 263 +34 2,947 Spring
    6 Tennis 258 267 –9 2,678 Spring
    7 Wrestling 76 146 –70 2,520 Winter

    DI college wrestling has lost almost half of its programs since 1982.[25]

    Women's team sports

    No. Sport Teams[26] Conferences Scholarships
    per team
    Season Most Championships
    1 Basketball 349 32 15 Winter Connecticut (11)
    2 Soccer 333 31 14.0 Fall North Carolina (21)
    3 Volleyball 334 32 12* Fall Stanford (9)
    4 Softball 295 32 12.0 Spring UCLA (12)
    5 Rowing 88 12 20.0 Spring Brown (7)
    6 Lacrosse 112 13 12.0 Spring Maryland (12)
    7 Field Hockey 78 10 12.0 Fall Old Dominion (9)
    8 Ice Hockey 40 4 18.0 Winter Minnesota (6)
    9 Beach Volleyball 47 5 6.0* Spring USC (2)
    10 Water Polo 34 6 8.0 Spring UCLA (7)


    • As in the men's table above, sports are ranked in order of total possible scholarships. Numbers for head-count sports are indicated without a decimal point; those for equivalency sports are indicated with a decimal point, with a trailing zero if needed.
    • Women's soccer is the fastest growing NCAA D-I women's team sport over a prolonged period, increasing from 22 teams in 1981/82 to 315 teams in 2010/11.[27] However, in recent years, the fastest-growing has been beach volleyball, which went from 14 Division I teams in 2011–12 to 55 in 2016–17.
    • = In the 2016–17 school year, rugby is classified by the NCAA as an "emerging sport" for women. Beach volleyball, which had previously been an "emerging sport" under the name of "sand volleyball",[28] became an official NCAA championship sport in 2015–16.[29]
    • * = The number of scholarships are partially linked for (indoor) volleyball and beach volleyball. Schools that field both indoor and beach volleyball teams are allowed 6.0 full scholarship equivalents specifically for beach volleyball as of 2016–17, with the further limitations that (1) no player receiving aid for beach volleyball can be on the indoor volleyball roster and (2) a maximum of 14 individuals can receive aid in beach volleyball. If a school fields only a beach volleyball team, it is allowed 8.0 full scholarship equivalents for that sport, also distributed among no more than 14 individuals.

    Women's individual sports

    The following table lists the women's individual DI sports with at least 1,000 participating athletes. Sports are ranked by number of athletes.

    No. Sport Teams (2015)[24] Teams (1982)[24] Change Athletes[24] Season
    1 Track (outdoor) 329 180 +149 13,075 Spring
    2 Track (indoor) 319 127 +192 12,816 Winter
    3 Cross country 342 183 +159 6,031 Fall
    4 Swimming & diving 195 161 +34 5,393 Winter
    5 Golf 259 83 +176 2,170 Spring
    6 Tennis 318 246 +72 2,912 Spring
    7 Gymnastics 61 99 –38 1,085 Winter

Broadcasting and revenue

NCAA Division I schools have broadcasting contracts that showcase their more popular sports — typically football and men's basketball — on network television and in basic cable channels. These contracts can be quite lucrative, particularly for DI schools from the biggest conferences. For example, the Big Ten conference in 2016 entered into contracts with Fox and ESPN that pay the conference $2.64 billion over six years.

The NCAA also holds certain TV contracts. For example, the NCAA's contract to show the men's basketball championship tournament (widely known as March Madness) is currently under a 14-year deal with CBS and Turner that runs from 2010 to 2024 and pays $11 billion.

For the 2014–15 fiscal year, the conferences that earned the most revenues (and that distributed the most revenues to each of their member schools) were:

  1. SEC — $527 million (dispersed $33 million to each of its member schools)
  2. Big 10 — $449 million (dispersed $32 million each)
  3. Pac-12 — $439 million (dispersed $25 million each)
  4. ACC — $403 million (dispersed $26 million each)
  5. Big 12 — $268 million (dispersed $23 million each)
U.S. college sports TV rights
Sports rights Sport National TV contract Total Revenues
(Per Year)
NCAA March Madness Basketball CBS, Turner $8.8bn ($1.1bn)
College Football Playoff Football ESPN $5.6bn ($470m)
Pac-12 Conference All Fox, ESPN $3.0bn ($250m)
Big Ten Conference (Big Ten/B1G) All Fox, ESPN, CBS $2.6bn ($440m) [30]
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All ESPN $3.6bn ($240m)
Big 12 Conference All Fox, ESPN $2.6bn ($200m)
Southeastern Conference (SEC) All CBS, ESPN $2.6bn ($205m)
American Athletic Conference All ESPN $910m ($130m)
Mountain West Conference (MW) All CBS, ESPN $116m ($18m) [31]
Mid-American Conference (MAC) All ESPN $100m ($8m)

The NCAA has limits on the total financial aid each Division I member may award in each sport that the school sponsors. It divides sports that are sponsored into two types for purposes of scholarship limitations:

  • "Head-count" sports, in which the NCAA limits the total number of individuals that can receive athletic scholarships, but allows each player to receive up to a full scholarship.
  • "Equivalency" sports, in which the NCAA limits the total financial aid that a school can offer in a given sport to the equivalent of a set number of full scholarships. Roster limitations may or may not apply, depending on the sport.

The term "counter" is also key to this concept. The NCAA defines a "counter" as "an individual who is receiving institutional financial aid that is countable against the aid limitations in a sport."[33]

The number of scholarships that Division I members may award in each sport is listed below. In this table, scholarship numbers for head-count sports are indicated without a decimal point; for equivalency sports, they are listed with a decimal point, with a trailing zero if required.

Sport Men's Women's
Acrobatics & tumbling 14.0[34]
Baseball 11.7[35][nb 1]
Basketball 13[41] 15[42]
Beach volleyball 6.0[nb 2]
Bowling 5.0[34]
Cross-country/track & field 12.6[45][nb 3] 18.0[34][nb 4]
Equestrian 15.0[34]
Fencing 4.5[45] 5.0[34]
Field hockey 12.0[34]
Football 85 (FBS)[47][nb 5]
63.0 (FCS)[48][nb 6]
Golf 4.5[45] 6.0[34]
Gymnastics 6.3[45] 12[50]
Ice hockey 18.0[51][nb 7] 18.0[nb 8]
Lacrosse 12.6[45] 12.0[34]
Rifle 3.6[45][nb 9]
Rowing 20.0[34]
Rugby 12.0[34]
Skiing 6.3[45] 7.0[34]
Soccer 9.9[45] 14.0[34]
Softball 12.0[34]
Swimming and diving 9.9[45] 14.0[34]
Tennis 4.5[45] 8[50]
Triathlon 6.5[34]
Volleyball 4.5[45] 12[50]
Water polo 4.5[45] 8.0[34]
Wrestling 9.9[45] 10.0[34]
  1. ^ This total is also subject to the following restrictions:
    • The number of total counters is limited to 27.[35]
    • Each counter must receive "athletically related and other countable financial aid" equal to at least 25% of a full scholarship.[36] Most institutional and governmental non-athletic aid falls in the "countable" category;[37] an official NCAA rules interpretation also allows schools to count aid that would otherwise be exempt by NCAA rule (such as purely academic awards) toward the 25% limit, as long as it also is included in the calculations for the team equivalency limit.[38] The 25% rule does not apply to baseball schools that offer only need-based aid (such as Ivy League members).[39] A second exception to the 25% rule, added in 2012, is for players in their final year of athletic eligibility who have not previously received athletically related aid in baseball at any college.[40]
  2. ^ This total is for schools that also sponsor women's indoor volleyball.[43] If a school does not sponsor women's indoor volleyball, it is allowed 8.0 equivalents for beach volleyball.[44] For all schools, the maximum number of counters in beach volleyball is 14.[43][44]
  3. ^ If a school sponsors men's cross-country but does not sponsor either indoor or outdoor track and field for men, it is allowed 5.0 scholarship equivalents for that sport.[46]
  4. ^ If a school sponsors women's cross-country but does not sponsor either indoor or outdoor track and field for women, it is allowed 6.0 scholarship equivalents for that sport.[46]
  5. ^ FBS programs are also limited to 25 new counters per school year.[47]
  6. ^ FCS programs are also limited to 85 total counters per school year.[48] Effective with the recruiting cycle for the 2018–19 school year, the previous limit of 30 new counters per year for FCS programs has been removed.[49]
  7. ^ The number of total counters is limited to 30.[51]
  8. ^ The NCAA Division I Manual does not include any scholarship limitations for women's ice hockey. These limitations are instead found in the Division II Manual.[52] The Division II Manual does not include any limit on total counters for any sport, including women's ice hockey.
  9. ^ NCAA rifle competition is fully coeducational. For purposes of sports sponsorship, the NCAA classifies teams that include both men and women as men's teams.[53] Of the 33 NCAA rifle schools (23 in Division I, 4 in Division II, and 6 in Division III), 22 field a single coed/mixed team. Six schools (five in Division I and one in Division III) field women-only teams. Schools are also allowed to field any combination of men's, women's, and mixed teams; several NCAA rifle schools field two types of teams, but none currently fields all three types. The scholarship limits are per school, not per team.

Rules for multi-sport athletes

The NCAA also has rules specifying the sport in which multi-sport athletes are to be counted, with the basic rules being:[54]

  • Anyone who participates in football is counted in that sport, even if he does not receive financial aid from the football program. An exception exists for players at non-scholarship FCS programs who receive aid in another sport.[55]
  • Participants in basketball are counted in that sport, unless they also play football.
  • Participants in men's ice hockey are counted in that sport, unless they also play football or basketball.
  • Participants in both men's swimming and diving and men's water polo are counted in swimming and diving, unless they count in football or basketball.
  • Participants in women's (indoor) volleyball are counted in that sport unless they also play basketball.
  • All other multi-sport athletes are counted in whichever sport the school chooses.

Football subdivisions

Subdivisions in Division I exist only in football.[56][57] In all other sports, all Division I conferences are equivalent. The subdivisions were recently given names to reflect the differing levels of football play in them.

The method by which the NCAA determines whether a school is Bowl or Championship subdivision is first by attendance numbers and then by scholarships.[58] For attendance reporting methods, the NCAA allows schools to report either total tickets sold or the number of persons in attendance at the games. They require a minimum average of 15,000 people in attendance every other year.[58] These numbers get posted to the NCAA statistics website for football each year. With the new rules starting in the 2006 season, the number of Bowl Subdivision schools could drop in the future if those schools are not able to pull in enough fans into the games. Additionally, 14 FCS schools had enough attendance to be moved up in 2012.[59] Under current NCAA rules, these schools must have an invitation from an FBS conference in order to move to FBS. Three of them—Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Old Dominion—began FBS transitions in 2013. All had the required FBS conference invitations, with Old Dominion joining Conference USA in 2013, and Appalachian State and Georgia Southern joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. The difference in the postseasons in each of the subdivisions grant the FCS an advantage to have the best record in college football history, 17–0, while the FBS only allows a 15–0 record.

Football Bowl Subdivision

Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the top level of college football. Schools in Division I FBS compete in post-season bowl games, with the champions of five conferences, along with the highest-ranked champion of the other five conferences, receiving automatic bids to the access bowls.

FBS schools are limited to a total of 85 football players receiving financial assistance.[60] For competitive reasons, a student receiving partial scholarship counts fully against the total of 85. Nearly all FBS schools that are not on NCAA probation give 85 full scholarships.

As of the 2019 college football season, there will be 130 full members of Division I FBS. The most recent school to become a full FBS member is Liberty University, which made the transition from FCS in 2017 and 2018.

Since the 2016 season, all FBS conferences have been allowed to conduct a championship game that does not count against the limit of 12 regular-season contests. Under the current rules, such a game can be held either (1) between the winners of each of two divisions, with each team having played a full round-robin schedule within its division, or (2) between the conference's top two teams after a full round-robin conference schedule.[61] Previously, "exempt" championship games could only be held between the divisional winners of conferences that had at least 12 football teams and split into divisions.[62][63] The prize is normally a specific bowl game bid for which the conference has a tie-in.

Some conferences have numbers in their names but this often has no relation to the number of member institutions in the conference. The Big Ten Conference did not formally adopt the "Big Ten" name until 1987, but unofficially used that name when it had 10 members from 1917 to 1946, and again from 1949 forward. However, it has continued to use the name even after it expanded to 11 members with the addition of Penn State in 1990, 12 with the addition of Nebraska in 2011, and 14 with the arrival of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The Big 12 Conference was established in 1996 with 12 members, but continues to use that name even after a number of departures and a few replacements left the conference with 10 members. On the other hand, the Pac-12 Conference has used names (official or unofficial) that have reflected the number of members since its current charter was established in 1959. The conference unofficially used "Big Five" (1959–62), "Big Six" (1962–64), and "Pacific-8" (1964–68) before officially adopting the "Pacific-8" name. The name duly changed to "Pacific-10" in 1978 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State, and "Pac-12" (instead of "Pacific-12") in 2011 when Colorado and Utah joined. Conferences also tend to ignore their regional names when adding new schools. For example, the Pac-8/10/12 retained its "Pacific" moniker even though its four newest members (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) are located in the inland West, and the original Big East kept its name even after adding schools (either in all sports or for football only) located in areas traditionally considered to be in the Midwest (Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame), Upper South (Louisville, Memphis) and Southwest (Houston, SMU). The non-football conference that assumed the Big East name when the original Big East split in 2013 is another example of this phenomenon, as half of its 10 inaugural schools (Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Marquette, Xavier) are traditionally regarded as being Midwestern.


Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters
American Athletic Conference *** The American 1979 [a] 11 [b][c] 22 Providence, Rhode Island
Atlantic Coast Conference ** ACC 1953 15 [d] 26 Greensboro, North Carolina
Big Ten Conference ** Big Ten, B1G 1896 14 [e] 28 Rosemont, Illinois
Big 12 Conference ** Big 12 1996 10 [f] 21 Irving, Texas
Conference USA *** C-USA 1995[g] 14 [h] 19 Irving, Texas
Division I FBS Independents[i] 7
Mid-American Conference *** MAC 1946 12[j] 24 Cleveland, Ohio
Mountain West Conference *** MW 1999 11[k][l] 19 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pac-12 Conference ** Pac-12 1915[m] 12[n] 24 Walnut Creek, California
Southeastern Conference ** SEC 1932 14 20 Birmingham, Alabama
Sun Belt Conference *** Sun Belt 1976 12[o][p] 18 New Orleans, Louisiana

(** "Big Five" or "Power Five" conferences with guaranteed berths in the "access bowls" associated with the College Football Playoff)

(*** "Group of Five" conferences)

  1. ^ The conference was founded in 1979 as the original Big East Conference. It renamed itself the American Athletic Conference following a 2013 split along football lines. The non-FBS schools of the original conference left to form a new conference that purchased the Big East name, while the FBS schools continued to operate under the old Big East's charter and structure. The American also inherited the old Big East's Bowl Championship Series berth for the 2013 season, the last for the BCS.
  2. ^ 10 of the 11 full members sponsor football, with Wichita State as the only non-football member.
  3. ^ In addition to the full members, five schools have single-sport associate membership, and a sixth is a member in two sports:
  4. ^ Notre Dame is a full member except in football, in which it remains independent. It has committed to play at least five games each season against ACC opponents, and to play each other ACC member at least once every three years.
  5. ^ In addition to the full members, two schools have affiliate membership:
    • Johns Hopkins, otherwise a Division III member, is an affiliate in both men's and women's lacrosse, sports in which the school fields Division I teams.
    • Notre Dame is a men's hockey affiliate.
  6. ^ In addition to the full members, the Big 12 has 10 members that participate in only one sport, and another that participates in two:
  7. ^ The conference was founded in 1995, with football competition starting in 1996.
  8. ^ In addition to the 14 full members, Conference USA features two schools that play men's soccer in the conference: Kentucky and South Carolina.
  9. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  10. ^ In addition to the 12 full members, the Mid-American Conference features 18 members which only participate in one sport each, plus one other school that competes in two sports. Another school will become a single-sport member in the near future.
  11. ^ Since 2012, Hawaiʻi has been a football-only associate member, with most of its remaining teams in the non-football Big West Conference.
  12. ^ In addition to the 11 full members and football affiliate Hawaiʻi, Colorado College, a Division III school with a Division I men's ice hockey team, plays Division I women's soccer in the MW.
  13. ^ The charter of the Pac-12 dates only to the formation of the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) in 1959. However, the Pac-12 claims the history of the Pacific Coast Conference, which was founded in 1915 and began competition in 1916, as its own. Of the nine members of the PCC at the time of its demise in June 1959, only Idaho never joined the Pac-12. The PCC's berth in the Rose Bowl passed to the AAWU.
  14. ^ The Pac-12 also includes four associate members, each of which competes in a single sport. San Diego State plays men's soccer. Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Poly, and Little Rock compete in wrestling.
  15. ^ Ten Sun Belt Conference members currently sponsor football, with Little Rock and UT Arlington as members that do not play football at all.
  16. ^ Central Arkansas and Howard are men's soccer affiliates. Howard men's soccer will move to the Northeast Conference in July 2021.

Football Championship Subdivision

The Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA, consists of 124 teams as of the 2018 season; three programs are independent, while the remaining 121 teams are structured into 13 conferences.[64] The "I-AA" designation was dropped by the NCAA in 2006, although it is still informally and commonly used. FCS teams are limited to 63 players on scholarship (compared to 85 for FBS teams) and usually play an 11-game schedule (compared to 12 games for FBS teams).[65] The FCS determines its national champion through an NCAA-sanctioned single-elimination bracket tournament, culminating in a title game, the NCAA Division I Football Championship.[66] As of the 2018 season, the tournament begins with 24 teams; 10 conference champions that received automatic bids, and 14 teams selected at-large by a selection committee.[67]

The postseason tournament traditionally begins on Thanksgiving weekend in late November. When I-AA was formed 43 years ago in 1978,[11] the playoffs included just four teams for its first three seasons, doubling to eight teams for one season in 1981.[68] From 1982 to 1985, there was a 12-team tournament; this expanded to 16 teams in 1986. The playoffs expanded to 20 teams starting in 2010, then grew to 24 teams in 2013. Since the 2010 season, the title game is held in early January at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. From 1997 through 2009, the title game was played in December in Chattanooga, Tennessee, preceded by five seasons in Huntington, West Virginia.[69]


The Football Championship Subdivision includes several conferences which do not participate in the eponymous post-season championship tournament.

The Ivy League was reclassified to I-AA (FCS) following the 1981 season,[70] and plays a strict ten-game schedule. Although it qualifies for an automatic bid, the Ivy League has not played any postseason games at all since becoming a conference for the 1956 NCAA University Division football season, citing academic concerns. (The last college which is now an Ivy League member to play in a bowl game was Columbia in the 1934 Rose Bowl.)

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has its own championship game in mid-December between the champions of its East and West divisions. Also, three of its member schools traditionally do not finish their regular seasons until Thanksgiving weekend. Grambling State and Southern play each other in the Bayou Classic, and Alabama State plays Tuskegee (of Division II) in the Turkey Day Classic. SWAC teams are eligible to accept at-large bids if their schedule is not in conflict. The last SWAC team to participate in the I-AA playoffs was Jackson State in 1997; the SWAC never achieved success in the tournament, going winless in 19 games in twenty years (1978–97). It had greater success outside the conference while in Division II and the preceding College Division.

From 2006 through 2009, the Pioneer Football League and Northeast Conference champions played in the Gridiron Classic. If a league champion was invited to the national championship playoff as an at-large bid (something the Pioneer league, at least, never received), the second-place team would play in the Gridiron Classic. That game was scrapped after the 2009 season when its four-year contract ran out; this coincided with the NCAA's announcement that the Northeast Conference would get an automatic bid to the tournament starting in 2010. The Big South Conference also received an automatic bid in the same season. The Pioneer Football League earned an automatic bid beginning in 2013.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) began abstaining from the playoffs with the 2015 season. Like the SWAC, its members are eligible for at-large bids, and the two conferences have faced off in the Celebration Bowl as an alternative postseason game since the 2015 season.

Schools in a transition period after joining the FCS from a lower division (or from the NAIA) are also ineligible for the playoffs.


Division I FCS schools are currently restricted to giving financial assistance amounting to 63 full scholarships. As FCS football is an "equivalency" sport (as opposed to the "head-count" status of FBS football), Championship Subdivision schools may divide their allotment into partial scholarships. However, FCS schools may only have 85 players receiving any sort of athletic financial aid for football—the same numeric limit as FBS schools. Because of competitive forces, however, a substantial number of players in Championship Subdivision programs are on full scholarships. Another difference is that FCS schools no longer have a limit on the number of new players that can be provided with financial aid in a given season, while FBS schools are limited to 25 such additions per season. Finally, FCS schools are limited to 95 individuals participating in preseason practices, as opposed to 105 at FBS schools (the three service academies that play FBS football are exempt from preseason practice player limits by NCAA rule).

A few Championship Subdivision conferences are composed of schools that offer no athletic scholarships at all, most notably the Ivy League and the Pioneer Football League (PFL), a football-only conference. The Ivy League allows no athletic scholarships at all, while the PFL consists of schools that offer scholarships in other sports but choose not to take on the expense of a scholarship football program. The Northeast Conference also sponsored non-scholarship football, but began offering a maximum of 30 full scholarship equivalents in 2006, which grew to 40 in 2011 after a later vote of the league's school presidents and athletic directors and has since increased to 45.[71] The Patriot League only began awarding football scholarships in the 2013 season, with the first scholarships awarded only to incoming freshmen. Before the conference began its transition to scholarship football, athletes receiving scholarships in other sports were ineligible to play football for member schools. Since the completion of the transition with the 2016 season, member schools have been allowed up to 60 full scholarship equivalents.[72]


Conference Nickname Founded Full Members Sports Headquarters FCS Tournament Bid
Big Sky Conference Big Sky 1963 11[a][b] 16 Ogden, Utah Automatic
Big South Conference Big South 1983 11[c] 18 Charlotte, North Carolina Automatic
Colonial Athletic Association CAA 1983[d] 10[e][f] 21 Richmond, Virginia Automatic
Division I FCS Independents[g] 3[h]
Ivy League Ivy League 1954[i] 8 33 Princeton, New Jersey Automatic – (Abstains)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference MEAC 1970 11[j][k][l] 15 Norfolk, Virginia Abstains
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC 1985[m] 11 1 St. Louis, Missouri Automatic
Northeast Conference NEC 1981 10[n][o] 23 Somerset, New Jersey Automatic
Ohio Valley Conference OVC 1948 12[p][q] 19 Brentwood, Tennessee Automatic
Patriot League Patriot 1986[r] 10[s][t] 23 Center Valley, Pennsylvania Automatic
Pioneer Football League PFL 1991 9[u] 1 St. Louis, Missouri Automatic
Southern Conference SoCon 1921 10[v] 22 Spartanburg, South Carolina Automatic
Southland Conference SLC 1963 13[w][x] 18 Frisco, Texas Automatic
Southwestern Athletic Conference SWAC 1920 10[y][z] 18 Birmingham, Alabama Abstains
  1. ^ 13 football members with Cal Poly and UC Davis, both full members of the non-football Big West Conference, as football-only affiliates.
    • 10 full members and 12 football members in 2022 with Southern Utah joining the Western Athletic Conference.
  2. ^ In addition to the full members and football affiliates, Binghamton and Hartford are associate members in men's golf.
  3. ^ The Big South has four full members that compete for its football championship, plus four football-only associates in Kennesaw State, Monmouth, North Alabama, and Robert Morris.
    • In 2021, the Big South will add North Carolina A&T as a full member, including football.
    • 7 football members in 2022 with departure of full ASUN Conference members Kennesaw State and North Alabama for the new ASUN football league.
  4. ^ The CAA football conference was only founded in 2007, but has a continuous history dating to the late 1930s (although not under the same charter):
    • The New England Conference was formed by five New England state universities, plus one private university in that region (Northeastern), in 1938. Four of the public schools—Maine, UMass, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island—were in the CAA football conference through the 2011 season. However, UMass football left for the MAC in 2012. URI football initially planned to leave for the Northeast Conference in 2013, but decided to remain in the CAA.
    • In 1946, the four then-remaining members of the New England Conference affiliated with two other schools to form the Yankee Conference under a separate charter, with athletic competition starting in 1947.
    • In 1997, the Yankee Conference was absorbed by the Atlantic 10 Conference. The A-10 inherited the Yankee Conference's automatic berth in the Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs. In addition to the four charter New England Conference members mentioned above, five other members of the Yankee Conference at the time of the A10 merger are still in the CAA football conference.
    • After the 2006 season, all of the A-10 football teams left for the new CAA football conference. The CAA inherited the A10's automatic berth in the FCS playoffs.
  5. ^ The CAA has 10 full members, but only five of them are part of the CAA football conference. Currently, seven associate members fill out the ranks of the CAA football conference: Albany, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook, and Villanova. Villanova is also a CAA associate in women's rowing.
  6. ^ In addition to the football associates, the CAA has four other associate members that each participate in one sport:
  7. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  8. ^ No independents in July 2021 with Presbyterian joining the Pioneer Football League, and Dixie State and Tarleton State joining the new FCS football league of their full-time home of the Western Athletic Conference.
  9. ^ Although the conference considers 1954 to be its founding date, the athletic league's origins go back to the turn of the 20th century.
    • The Ivy League considers the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League (EIBL), a men's basketball-only conference founded in 1901, as part of its history. Every school that had been an EIBL member would become part of the Ivy League.
    • In 1945, the eight schools that would eventually form the athletic Ivy League entered into the Ivy Group Agreement, which governed football competition between the schools. The original agreement was renewed in 1952.
    • The official founding date of 1954 reflects the extension of the Ivy Group Agreement to all sports. As part of the agreement, Brown, the only one of the original Ivy Group that had not joined the EIBL, did so. All-sports competition began in 1955, with the EIBL directly absorbed into the new league.
  10. ^ The football conference currently consists of 9 of the 11 member schools.
  11. ^ Three members will leave in 2021—Bethune–Cookman and Florida A&M for the Southwestern Athletic Conference, and North Carolina A&T for the Big South Conference.
  12. ^ In addition to the full members, three other schools are associates in two sports:
    • Augusta, a Division II school that operates Division I programs in men's and women's golf, is an associate member in men's golf only.
    • Monmouth and UAB participate in women's bowling. North Carolina A&T plans to continue in MEAC bowling after its departure for the Big South, which does not sponsor that sport.
  13. ^ The football conference dates to 1985, but the conference charter was established in 1982. See History of the Missouri Valley Football Conference for more details.
  14. ^ The conference has 8 full members that sponsor football. Duquesne of the non-football Atlantic 10 is a football associate.
  15. ^ In addition to Duquesne in football, the NEC has five other associate members that each participate in one sport, plus one in multiple sports:
    • Division II member Caldwell participates in women's bowling, as does Duquesne.
    • Hobart, otherwise a Division III member, and full D-I member Saint Joseph's participate in men's lacrosse.
    • Fairfield and Rider are field hockey associates.
    • Howard competes in men's and women's swimming & diving. It will add women's golf, women's lacrosse, and men's and women's soccer to its NEC membership in 2021.
  16. ^ The football conference consists of 9 of the 12 member schools. Morehead State plays non-scholarship football in the Pioneer Football League, while Belmont and SIU Edwardsville do not sponsor football.
  17. ^ In addition to the full members, Chattanooga is an associate in beach volleyball.
  18. ^ The Patriot League was founded as the football-only Colonial League in 1986. In 1990, it became an all-sports conference and adopted its current name.
  19. ^ Five of the full members do not sponsor FCS football. American, Boston University and Loyola (Maryland) do not sponsor football at all; Army is an FBS independent; and Navy plays in the American Athletic Conference. Fordham and Georgetown are associate members in football.
  20. ^ In addition to the football associates, two other schools have single-sport membership:
    • MIT, otherwise a Division III institution, is an associate in women's rowing.
    • Richmond is a women's golf associate.
  21. ^ 11 members in 2021 with addition of Presbyterian and St. Thomas (MN).
  22. ^ In addition to the full members, the SoCon currently has 14 associate members which play one sport in the conference, and one that plays two. In 2021, the current two-sport associate will move one of its sports from the SoCon, one single-sport associate will leave the SoCon entirely, and one new associate will join.
  23. ^ The football conference currently consists of 11 of the 13 member schools.
  24. ^ 8 full members and 6 football members in July 2021 with Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin moving to the Western Athletic Conference and its revived football league, and Central Arkansas moving to the ASUN Conference for non-football sports and football-only membership in the WAC, with ASUN football membership following in 2022.
  25. ^ 12 members in 2021 with addition of Bethune–Cookman and Florida A&M.
  26. ^ In addition to the full members, Howard is an associate member in women's soccer, but will move that sport to the Northeast Conference in July 2021.

Division I non-football schools

Several Bowl Subdivision and Championship Subdivision conferences have member institutions that do not compete in football. Such schools are sometimes unofficially referred to as I-AAA.[73]

The following non-football conferences have full members that sponsor football:

The following Division I conferences do not sponsor football. These conferences still compete in Division I for all sports that they sponsor.


Conference Nickname Founded Members Sports Headquarters
America East Conference America East 1979 10[a] 18 Boston, Massachusetts
Atlantic Sun Conference ASUN 1978 9[b][c] 19[d] Macon, Georgia
Atlantic 10 Conference A-10 1975 14[e] 21 Newport News, Virginia
Big East Conference Big East 2013[f] 11[g] 22 New York City, New York
Big West Conference Big West 1969 11[h] 18 Irvine, California
Horizon League Horizon 1979 12 19 Indianapolis, Indiana
Independents[i] Independents 0[j]
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference MAAC 1980 11[k] 22 Edison, New Jersey
Missouri Valley Conference MVC / Valley 1907 10[l] 17 St. Louis, Missouri
The Summit League The Summit 1982 9[m][n] 19 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
West Coast Conference WCC 1952 10[o] 15 San Bruno, California
Western Athletic Conference WAC 1962 9[p][q] 19[r] Greenwood Village, Colorado
  1. ^ In addition to the full members, there are five associate members:
    • California, Monmouth, Stanford, and UC Davis are associates in field hockey. Stanford will drop field hockey after the 2020 season (2020–21 school year).
    • VMI is an associate in men's and women's swimming & diving.
  2. ^ 12 members in 2021 with addition of Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and Jacksonville State.
    • At least 5 football members in 2022, with the three 2021 arrivals joined by current full members Kennesaw State and North Alabama.
  3. ^ In addition to the full members, the ASUN has three associate members; one of the current associates will leave and five new associates will join in July 2021.
  4. ^ 20 sports in 2021 with addition of men's lacrosse; 21 sports in 2022 with addition of FCS football.
  5. ^ In addition to the full members, Lock Haven, otherwise a Division II institution, and Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) are associate members in field hockey.
  6. ^ The current Big East was formed in 2013 as a result of the split of the original Big East Conference. The original conference charter was retained by the football-sponsoring schools now known as the American Athletic Conference. While both leagues claim 1979 as their founding date, the current Big East maintains the history of the original conference in all sports that it sponsors. The pre-split histories of Big East football and rowing—the two sports that are sponsored by The American but not the current Big East—are not recognized by either offshoot conference.
  7. ^ In addition to the full members, the following schools are Big East affiliates in one or more sports:
  8. ^ In addition to the full members, Sacramento State is a member in beach volleyball and men's soccer.
  9. ^ Note that "Independents" is not a conference, it is simply a designation used to indicate schools which are not a member of any conference.
  10. ^ There have been no independents since the New Jersey Institute of Technology joined the ASUN Conference in 2015.
  11. ^ In addition to the full members, 14 other schools are MAAC affiliates in one sport, and two others have multiple sports in the conference.
  12. ^ In addition to the full members, three schools house one sport in the conference:
  13. ^ 10 full members in 2021 with addition of St. Thomas (MN).
  14. ^ In addition to the full members, three schools are single-sport associates, and one houses multiple sports in the conference. One more school is set to become a single-sport associate in the near future.
  15. ^ In addition to the full members, Creighton is an associate member in women's rowing.
  16. ^ 13 full members and 9 football members in July 2021 with arrival of Abilene Christian, Lamar, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin, all of which sponsor football. They will be joined by current full members Dixie State and Tarleton State, plus football-only members Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and Jacksonville State, in a revived WAC football league that will play in FCS.
    • 13 full members and 7 football members in 2022 with addition of football-sponsoring Southern Utah, departure of full non-football member Chicago State, and departure of football-only members Central Arkansas, Eastern Kentucky, and Jacksonville State for the new ASUN football league.
    • 13 full members and 8 football members no later than 2024 with addition of football by full member UTRGV.
  17. ^ In addition to the full members, the WAC currently has 9 associate members that house one or two sports in the conference:
  18. ^ 20 sports in 2021 with reinstatement of football.

Of these, the three that most recently sponsored football were the Atlantic 10, MAAC, and WAC. The A-10 football league dissolved in 2006 with its members going to the Colonial Athletic Association. In addition, four A-10 schools (Dayton, Fordham, Duquesne, and Massachusetts) play football in a conference other than the new CAA, which still includes two full-time A-10 members (Rhode Island and Richmond). The MAAC stopped sponsoring football in 2007, after most of its members gradually stopped fielding teams. The only pre-2007 MAAC member that still sponsors football is Marist; Monmouth became the second full MAAC member with football upon its arrival in 2013. Marist plays in the Pioneer Football League, while Monmouth spent the 2013 season as an FCS independent before moving its football program into the Big South. The WAC dropped football at the end of the 2012 season, after a near-complete membership turnover that saw the conference stripped of all but two of its football-sponsoring members. The two remaining football-sponsoring schools, Idaho and New Mexico State, played the 2013 season as FBS independents before becoming football-only members of the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. Both left Sun Belt football in 2018, with Idaho downgrading to FCS status and adding football to its all-sports Big Sky Conference membership and New Mexico State becoming an FBS independent. The WAC added two more football-sponsoring schools with the 2020 arrival of Dixie State and Tarleton State from Division II; both schools planned to be FCS independents for the foreseeable future. In January 2021, the WAC announced it would reinstate football at the FCS level in July of that year, coinciding with the arrival of four new full members with FCS football.

Division I in ice hockey

Some sports, most notably ice hockey[81] and men's volleyball, have completely different conference structures that operate outside of the normal NCAA sports conference structure.

As ice hockey is limited to a much smaller number of almost exclusively Northern schools, there is a completely different conference structure for teams.[81] These conferences feature a mix of teams that play their other sports in various Division I conferences, and even Division II and Division III schools. For most of the early 21st century, there was no correlation between a team's ice hockey affiliation and its affiliation for other sports, with the exception of the Ivy League's hockey-playing schools all being members of the ECAC. For example, before 2013, the Hockey East men's conference consisted of one ACC school, one Big East school, four schools from the America East, one from the A-10, one CAA school, and two schools from the D-II Northeast Ten Conference, while the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) both had some Big Ten representation, plus Division II and III schools. Also, the divisional structure is truncated, with the Division II championship abolished in 1999.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ceased its sponsorship of the sport in 2003,[82] with the remaining members forming Atlantic Hockey. For the next decade, no regular all-sport conferences sponsored ice hockey.

Starting with the 2013–14 season, Division I men's hockey experienced a major realignment. The Big Ten Conference began to sponsor ice hockey, and their institutions withdrew their membership from the WCHA and CCHA.[83] Additionally, six other schools from those conferences withdrew to form the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference at the same time.[84] The fallout from these moves led to the demise of the original CCHA, two more teams entering the NCHC, and further membership turnover in the men's side of the WCHA.

Women's hockey was largely unaffected by this realignment. The Big Ten still has only four members with varsity women's hockey (full members Michigan and Michigan State only ice men's teams, as does hockey-only member Notre Dame), with six teams required under conference bylaws for official sponsorship. As a result, the only changes in women's hockey affiliations in the 2010–14 period occurred in College Hockey America, which saw two schools drop the sport and three new members join.

The next significant realignment will take place after the 2020–21 season, when seven of the 10 current men's members of the WCHA will leave to form a revived CCHA.[85]


Conference Nickname Founded Members Men Women
Atlantic Hockey AHA 1997 11 11 none
Big Ten Conference Big Ten, B1G 1896 [a] 7 7 none
College Hockey America CHA 1999 [b] 6 none 6
ECAC Hockey N/A 1961[c] 12 12 12
Hockey East N/A 1984[d] 12 11 10
Independents 2[e] 2 none
National Collegiate Hockey Conference NCHC 2011[f] 8 8 none
New England Women's Hockey Alliance NEWHA 2018[g] 6[h] none 6
Western Collegiate Hockey Association WCHA 1951[i] 15 10[j] 7[k]
  1. ^ Founded as an all-sports conference in 1896, but did not sponsor ice hockey until 2013–14.
  2. ^ Founded as a men's-only conference in 1999, with women's hockey added in 2002. Men's hockey was dropped after the 2009–10 season.
  3. ^ Founded as a men's-only conference in 1961. A women's invitational tournament was first held in 1985; regular-season play began informally in 1988 before becoming officially sponsored in 1992. Originally part of the Eastern College Athletic Conference, but independent of that body since 2004.
  4. ^ Founded as a men's-only conference in 1984, with women's hockey added in 2002.
  5. ^ The only independent men's or women's teams in 2020–21 are the men's teams of Arizona State and LIU, the latter of which is playing its first season in 2020–21.
  6. ^ Date of founding; play began in 2013–14.
  7. ^ Founded as a scheduling alliance in 2017; formally organized as a conference in 2018. Received official NCAA recognition in 2019.
  8. ^ 7 members in 2022 with addition of Stonehill.
  9. ^ Founded as a men's-only conference in 1951, with women's hockey added in 1999.
  10. ^ Likely disbanding as a men's conference in 2021 following the 2019 announcement by seven of the then 10 men's members that they would leave after the 2020–21 season, with the group announcing in February 2020 that they would join a revived CCHA. An eighth men's member (Alaska Anchorage) has announced it will drop the sport after the 2020–21 season.
  11. ^ 8 women's members in 2021 with addition of St. Thomas (MN).

Classification debate

In the early 21st century, a controversy arose in the NCAA over whether schools will continue to be allowed to have one showcased program in Division I with the remainder of the athletic program in a lower division, as is the case of, notably, Johns Hopkins University lacrosse as well as Colorado College and University of Alabama in Huntsville in ice hockey. This is an especially important issue in hockey, which has no Division II national championship and has several schools whose other athletic programs compete in Division II and Division III.

This controversy was resolved at the 2004 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee when the members supported Proposal 65–1, the amended legislation co-sponsored by Colorado College, Clarkson University, Hartwick College, the Johns Hopkins University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rutgers University–Newark, St. Lawrence University, and SUNY Oneonta.[86][87] Each school affected by this debate is allowed to grant financial aid to student-athletes who compete in Division I programs in one men's sport and one women's sport. It is still permitted for other schools to place one men's and one women's sport in Division I going forward, but they cannot offer scholarships without bringing the whole program into compliance with Division I rules. In addition, schools in Divisions II and III are allowed to "play up" in any sport that does not have a championship for the school's own division, but only Division II programs and any Division III programs covered by the exemption can offer scholarships in those sports.

The Division I programs at each of the eight "waiver schools" which were grandfathered with the passing of Proposal 65-1 were: