In the post-World II era, when America became a major sport culture in the world, a significant factor in the overall development of sport was the substantial growth in intercollegiate sport. Between 1945 and 1960, intercollegiate sport still grew enormously in importance. It became more important as entertainment, more important economically, and more important on campus. The United States is still the only country in the world where sport and college or university education have become so completely linked.

Most colleges and universities offer extensive sports programs to their students. The advent of Title IX provided the impetus for the phenomenal growth of intercollegiate sport for women in the 1970s. many colleges and universities have joined with similar institution in their region to form athletic conferences-The Big Ten, the Western Athletic Conference, and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, for example.

College athletics refers primarily to sports and athletic competition organized and funded by institutions of tertiary education (colleges or universities in American English). In the United States, college athletics is a two-tiered system. The first tier includes the sports that are sanctioned by one of the collegiate sport governing bodies. The major sanctioning organizations include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Additionally, the first tier is characterized by selective participation, since only the elite athletes in their sport are able to participate. The second tier includes all intramural and recreational sports clubs, which are available to a larger portion of the student body.

The NCAA has four divisions, based on level of competition and rules for financial aid to athletes:

  1. Divisi I-A (139 schools)

  2. Divisi II (69 schools)

  3. Divisi III (191 schools)

Division I-A is primarily a “Football” division, whereas Division III is typically referred to as the “college” divison. In basketball, for example, the NCAA conducts yearly championship for Divisions I, II, and III.

The NAIA has 500 institutional members, the majority of them being smaller colleges and universities. This organization also conducts yearly national championships in two divisions. The NAIA doesn’t attract nearly the publicity and national interest that the NCAA does, bevause the largest institutions in most states are NCAA members.

There are a large number of 2 year colleges in The Unite States, many of which offer sport programs for their students. These institution are organized and governed by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which determines rules such as eligibility and organizes national championships.

Competition between student clubs from different colleges, not organized by and therefore not representing the institutions or their faculties, may also be called “intercollegiate” athletics or simply college sports. College sports originated as student activities.


Athletic Performance Pyramid for the U.S.

The first organized college sports club was formed in 1843 when Yale University created a boat club. Harvard University then followed in their footsteps, creating a similar boat club a year later. The creation of these organizations set the stage for the first intercollegiate sporting event in the U.S. This event took place in 1852, when the rowing team from Yale competed against the rowing team from Harvard at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. This marked the beginning of intercollegiate competition and triggered the creation of numerous college athletic organizations.

In the late 1850s, bat and ball games had started to become widely known and the sport of baseball was starting to become an establishment at U.S. universities. The first intercollegiate baseball game took place in 1859 between Amherst College and Williams College. The popularity of collegiate baseball increased from this point, and by 1870, college teams were playing extensive schedules. In 1879, the first official intercollegiate baseball league was formed. Track and field also grew in popularity during this time, and the first intercollegiate track and field event occurred in 1873. This competition featured a two-mile race between athletes from Amherst College, Cornell University, and McGill University of Montreal, Canada. The intercollegiate soccer in the U.S. took place on November 6, 1869, in New Brunswick, N.J., when clubs from Princeton and Rutgers played under rules modified from those of Association Football. The first intercollegiate rugby game took place on May 15, 1874, at Cambridge, Massachusetts when Harvard played rugby against McGill University. The first intercollegiate football games seems to have been the Harvard versus Yale game in 1875.

Fact about NCAA student athlete:

60% of the student-athletes surveyed reported they view themselves “more as athletes than students”.”

A student athlete (sometimes written “student-athlete”) is a participant in an organized competitive sport sponsored by the educational institution in which he or she is enrolled. The term student-athlete is used to describe the direct balance of a full time student and a full time athlete. Due to educational institutions being colleges, they offer scholarships in archery, baseball, basketball, crew, cross country, fencing, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, sailing, skiing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling.

“Student Athlete” is a name that is given to an individual who receives an athletic scholarship from a College or University. An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university awarded to an individual based predominantly on his or her ability to play in a sport. Athletic scholarships are common in the United States, but in many countries they are rare or non-existent. Student athletes are subject to eligibility rules that may require them to maintain a certain grade point average and may bar them from participating in professional competition. Aside from scholarships, many are also prohibited from receiving special treatment or incentives based on their athletic abilities.

In the United States, athletic scholarships are largely regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which sets minimum standards for both the individuals awarded the scholarships (in terms of GPAs and standardized test scores) and for the institutions granting them (in terms of the form and value of the scholarships and the proportion of recipients who must ultimately earn degrees). The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a voluntary association of about 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. The NCAA is divided into three divisions, based roughly on school size. Each division is made up of several conferences for regional league play. The complete List of NCAA conferences is a helpful guide when choosing where to play for the student athlete. When making the ultimate decision of choosing his or her college they must sign The National Letter of Intent. The NLI is an agreement between the athlete and their school they have chosen to certify that they are entering a four year institution for the first time. In order to sign the school has to have offered financial aid and the student has met the institution’s admission requirements. It is a belief that student athletes comprise one of the most diverse groups of people on our college campuses today, particularly with regard to factors such as personal history, academic preparedness, life goals and expectations, physical and psychological skills, and developmental readiness. Student athletes are likely to come into contact with important and influential alumni who can help them during their college years and – most importantly- after college.

Student athletes are also expected to meet or exceed the requirements in order to play sports in high school also. Many states enforce strict rules for their student athletes which are sometimes called “no pass, no play“. Arizona for example requires that you have a passing grade in every class. California expects you to have a “2.0” GPA or to have a “C” average in every class. If your goal is to play a sport in college the High School student must adhere to standards such as not contacting coaches before your Junior Year. Many coaches hear from hundreds or even thousands of students each year who are looking for athletic scholarships and/or an opportunity to compete in intercollegiate athletics.

The board voted that student-athletes must still pass all their classes to be eligible to participate in sports, but they changed when the clock starts ticking on that ineligibility. The new rules could require students to sit out 30 calendar days of ineligibility instead of 20 school days.

The second change involves when students can complete their ineligible period. Currently, students must sit out the primary sport they compete in, but the new rules will allow students to server their suspension in any sport they take part, which means students could serve their ineligible period immediately instead of waiting sometimes a full season for their primary sport to be back on the calendar.


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