Main organ Executive Committee
President Mark Emmert
|Legal status Association|
Revenue 912.3 million USD (2015)
Founder Theodore Roosevelt
|Formation March 31, 1906 (1906-03-31) (IAAUS)
Region served United States and Canada
Membership 1,281 schools/institutions, conferences, or other associations
Headquarters Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Subsidiaries Division I (NCAA), NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, America East Conference
Teams Baylor Bears baseball, Oregon State Beavers, Wofford Terriers men's ba, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, Saint Mary's Gaels me
Similar Big Ten Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, National Junior College A, Associated Press
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit association which regulates athletes of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations, and individuals. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 450,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2014, the NCAA generated almost a billion dollars in revenue. 80 to 90% of this revenue was due to the Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. This revenue is then distributed back into various organizations and institutions across the United States.
- Presidents of the NCAA
- NCAA sponsored sports
- Sports added and dropped
- Football Bowl Subdivision
- Division I conferences
- Division I FCS football only conferences
- Division I hockey only conferences
- Division III football only conferences
- Other Division III single sport conferences
- Football television controversy
- Rules violations
- Player compensation
- Other collegiate athletic organizations
- In the United States
- Foreign intercollegiate/interuniversity equivalents
- International governing body
In August 1973, the current three-division setup of Division I, Division II, and Division III was adopted by the NCAA membership in a special convention. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III. Division I football was further divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978. Subsequently, the term "Division I-AAA" was briefly added to delineate Division I schools which do not field a football program at all, but that term is no longer officially used by the NCAA. In 2006, Divisions I-A and I-AA were respectively renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Inter-collegiate sports began in the US in 1852 when crews from Harvard University and Yale University met in a challenge race in the sport of rowing. As rowing remained the preeminent sport in the country into the late-1800s, many of the initial debates about collegiate athletic eligibility and purpose were settled through organizations like the Rowing Association of American Colleges and the Intercollegiate Rowing Association. As other sports emerged, notably football and basketball, many of these same concepts and standards were adopted. Football, in particular, began to emerge as a marquee sport, but the rules of the game itself were in constant flux and often had to be adapted for each contest.
The NCAA dates its formation to two White House conferences convened by President Theodore Roosevelt to "encourage reforms" to college football practices in the early 20th century, which had resulted in repeated injuries and deaths and "prompted many college and universities to discontinue the sport." Following those White House meetings, Chancellor Henry MacCracken of New York University organized a meeting of 13 colleges and universities to initiate changes in football playing rules; at a follow-on meeting on December 28, 1905 in New York, 62 higher-education institutions became charter members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS). The IAAUS was officially established on March 31, 1906, and took its present name, the NCAA, in 1910.
For several years, the NCAA was a discussion group and rules-making body, but in 1921, the first NCAA national championship was conducted: the National Collegiate Track and Field Championships. Gradually, more rules committees were formed and more championships were created, including a basketball championship in 1939.
A series of crises brought the NCAA to a crossroads after World War II. The "Sanity Code" – adopted to establish guidelines for recruiting and financial aid – failed to curb abuses. Postseason football games were multiplying with little control, and member schools were increasingly concerned about how the new medium of television would affect football attendance.
The complexity of those problems and the growth in membership and championships demonstrated the need for full-time professional leadership. Walter Byers, previously a part-time executive assistant, was named executive director in 1951, and a national headquarters was established in Kansas City, Missouri in 1952.
Byers wasted no time placing his stamp on the Association. A program to control live television of football games was approved, the annual Convention delegated enforcement powers to the Association's Council, and legislation was adopted governing postseason bowl games.
As college athletics grew, the scope of the nation's athletics programs diverged, forcing the NCAA to create a structure that recognized varying levels of emphasis. In 1973, the Association's membership was divided into three legislative and competitive divisions – I, II, and III. Five years later in 1978, Division I members voted to create subdivisions I-A and I-AA (renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Football Championship Subdivision in 2007) in football.
Until the 1980s, the association did not offer women's athletics. Instead, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), with nearly 1000 member schools, governed women's collegiate sports in the United States. The AIAW was in a vulnerable position that precipitated conflicts with the NCAA in the early 1980s. Following a one-year overlap in which both organizations staged women's championships, the AIAW discontinued operation, and most member schools continued their women's athletics programs under the governance of the NCAA. By 1982 all divisions of the NCAA offered national championship events for women's athletics. A year later in 1983, the 75th Convention approved an expansion to plan women's athletic program services and pushed for a women's championship program.
In 1999, the NCAA was sued for discriminating against female athletes under Title IX for systematically giving men in graduate school more waivers than a woman to participate in college sports. In National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Smith, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA was not subject to that law, without reviewing the merits of the discrimination claim.
Over the last two decades recruiting international athletes has become a growing trend among NCAA institutions. For example, most German athletes outside of Germany are based at US universities. For many European athletes, the American universities are the only option to pursue an academic and athletic career at the same time. Many of these students come to the US with high academic expectations and aspirations.
In 2009, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, became the NCAA's first non-US member institution.
In 2014, the NCAA set a record high of a $989 Million in net revenue. Being just shy of $1 Billion is among the highest of all large sports organizations.
The modern era of the NCAA began in July 1955 when its executive director, Kansas City, Missouri native Walter Byers, moved the organization's headquarters from the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago (where its offices were shared by the headquarters of the Big Ten Conference) to the Fairmount Building at 101 West 11th Street in Downtown Kansas City. The move was intended to separate the NCAA from the direct influence of any individual conference and to keep it centrally located.
The Fairmount was a block from Municipal Auditorium which had hosted Final Four games in 1940, 1941, and 1942. After Byers moved to Kansas City, the championships would be held in Municipal in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1961, and 1964.
The Fairmount office consisted of three rooms with no air conditioning. Byers' staff consisted of four people: an assistant, two secretaries, and a bookkeeper.
In 1964, it moved three blocks away to offices in the Midland Theatre. In 1973, it moved to 6299 Nall at Shawnee Mission Parkway in suburban Mission, Kansas in a $1.2 million building on 3.4 acres (14,000 m2). In 1989, it moved 6 miles (9.7 km) farther south to 6201 College Boulevard in Overland Park, Kansas. The new building was on 11.35 acres (45,900 m2) and had 130,000 square feet (12,000 m2) of space.
The NCAA was dissatisfied with its Johnson County, Kansas suburban location noting that its location on the south edges of the Kansas City suburbs was more than 40 minutes from Kansas City International Airport. They also noted that the suburban location was not drawing visitors to its new visitors' center.
In 1997, it asked for bids for a new headquarters. Various cities competed for a new headquarters with the two finalists being Kansas City and Indianapolis. Kansas City proposed to relocate the NCAA back downtown near the Crown Center complex and would locate the visitors' center in Union Station. However Kansas City's main sports venue Kemper Arena was nearly 30 years old. Indianapolis argued that it was in fact more central than Kansas City in that two-thirds of the members are east of the Mississippi River. The 50,000-seat RCA Dome far eclipsed the 17,000-seat Kemper Arena. In 1999, the NCAA moved its 300-member staff to its new headquarters in the White River State Park in a four-story 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2) facility on the west edge of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Adjacent to the headquarters is the 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) NCAA Hall of Champions.
The NCAA's legislative structure is broken down into cabinets and committees, consisting of various representatives of its member schools. These may be broken down further into sub-committees. The legislation is then passed on, which oversees all the cabinets and committees, and also includes representatives from the schools, such as athletic directors and faculty advisors. Management Council legislation goes on to the Board of Directors, which consists of school presidents, for final approval. The NCAA staff provides support, acting as guides, liaisons, researchers, and public and media relations.
Sports sanctioned by the NCAA include the following: basketball, baseball (men), beach volleyball (women), softball (women), football (men), cross country, field hockey (women), bowling (women), golf, fencing (coeducational), lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics, rowing (women only), volleyball, ice hockey, water polo, rifle (coeducational), tennis, skiing (coeducational), track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling (men). The newest sport to be officially sanctioned is beach volleyball, which held its first championship in the 2015–16 school year.
Presidents of the NCAA
The NCAA had no full-time administrator until 1951, when Walter Byers was appointed executive director. In 1988, the title was changed to President.
NCAA sponsored sports
The NCAA currently awards 90 national championships yearly – 46 women's, 41 men's, and coed championships for fencing, rifle, and skiing. The Football Bowl Subdivision of Division I determines its own champion separately from the NCAA via the "College Football Playoff"; this is not an official NCAA championship (see below). The most recently added championship is a single all-divisions championship in women's beach volleyball, which was approved by leaders of all three divisions in late 2014 and early 2015. The first championship was held in spring 2016. The NCAA had called the sport "sand volleyball" until June 23, 2015, when it announced that it would use the internationally recognized name of "beach volleyball".
The NCAA has awarded championships in the following sports:
In addition to the above sports, the NCAA currently recognizes three "emerging sports" for women. These sports are recognized by the NCAA, with scholarship limitations for each, but do not currently have officially sanctioned NCAA championships. A member institution may use these sports to meet the required level of sports sponsorship for its division.
Note: Equestrian has been recommended for elimination as an "emerging sport" due to lack of growth in the number of participating institutions.
Sports added and dropped
The popularity of each of these sports programs has changed over time. Between 1988–89 and 2010–11, NCAA schools had net additions of 510 men's teams and 2,703 women's teams.
In women's sports, the sports with the biggest net gains during the 1988–89 to 2010–11 period were soccer (+599 teams), golf, and indoor track and field, while no women's sports programs experienced double-digit net losses. In men's sports, the sports with the biggest net gains during the 1988/89 to 2010/11 period were indoor track and field, lacrosse, and cross-country running (each with more than 100 net gains), but the men's sports with the biggest losses were wrestling (-104 teams), tennis, and rifle, and the men's team sport with the most net losses was water polo.
Other reports show that 355 college wrestling programs have been eliminated since 2000, and 212 men's gymnastics programs have been eliminated since 1969 with only 17 programs remaining as of 2013.
The following tables show the changes over time in the number of NCAA schools across all three divisions combined sponsoring each of the men's and women's team sports.
Source: NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report • 2012-13
Source: NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report • 2012-13
For every NCAA sanctioned sport other than Division I FBS football, the NCAA awards trophies with gold, silver, and bronze plating for the first, second, and third place teams respectively. In the case of the NCAA basketball tournaments, both semifinalists who did not make the championship game receive bronze plated trophies for third place (prior to 1982 the teams played a "consolation" game to determine third place). Similar trophies are awarded to both semifinalists in the NCAA football tournaments (which are conducted in Division I FCS and both lower divisions), which have never had a third-place game. Winning teams maintain permanent possession of these trophies unless it is later found that they were won via serious rules violations.
Starting with the 2001–02 season, and again in the 2007–08 season, the trophies were changed. Starting in the 2006 basketball season, teams that make the Final Four in the Division I tournament receive bronze plated "regional championship" trophies upon winning their Regional Championship. The teams that make the National Championship game receive an additional trophy that is gold-plated for the winner and silver-plated for the runner-up. Starting in the mid-1990s, the National Champions in men's and women's basketball receive an elaborate trophy with a black marble base and crystal "neck" with a removable crystal basketball following the presentation of the standard NCAA Championship trophy.
As of December 20, 2016, UCLA, Stanford, and Southern California (USC) have the most NCAA championships. UCLA holds the most, winning a combined 113 NCAA team championships in men's and women's sports, while Stanford is second with 112 and USC is third with 103.
Football Bowl Subdivision
The NCAA has never sanctioned an official championship for its highest level of football, now known as Division I FBS. Instead, several outside bodies award their own titles. The NCAA does not hold a championship tournament or game for Division I FBS football. In the past, teams that placed first in any of a number of season-ending media polls, most notable the AP Poll of writers and the Coaches Poll, were said to have won the "national championship".
Starting in 2014, the College Football Playoff – a consortium of the conferences and independent schools that compete in Division I FBS and six bowl games – has arranged to place the top four teams (based on a thirteen-member committee that selects and seeds the teams) into two semifinal games, with the winners advancing to compete in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The winner of the game receives a trophy; since the NCAA awards no national championship for Division I FBS football, this trophy does not denote NCAA as other NCAA college sports national championship trophies do.
AwardsSee also: Academic All-America, Best Female College Athlete ESPY Award, Best Male College Athlete ESPY Award, Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, Honda Sports Award, College baseball awards, and Sports Illustrated 2009 all-decade honors (college basketball & football) See footnote
The NCAA presents a number of different individual awards, including:
In previous years, the NCAA has presented the following awards at its NCAA Honors event: Astronaut Salute, Business Leader Salute, Congressional Medal of Honor Salute, Governor Salute, Olympians Salute, Performing Arts Salute, Presidents Cabinet Salute, Prominent National Media Salute, Special Recognition Awards, U.S. House of Representatives Salute, and U.S. Senate Salute.
Division I conferences
Division I FCS football-only conferences
Division I hockey-only conferences
Division III football-only conferences
Other Division III single-sport conferences
The NCAA has current media rights contracts with CBS Sports, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN Plus, and Turner Sports for coverage of its 88 championships. According to the official NCAA website, ESPN and its associated networks have rights to 21 championships, CBS to 67, and Turner Sports to one. The followings are the most prominent championships and rightsholders:
WestwoodOne has exclusive radio rights to the men's and women's basketball Final Fours to the men's College World Series (baseball). DirecTV has an exclusive package expanding CBS' coverage of the men's basketball tournament.
From 1998 to 2013, Electronic Arts had a license to develop college sports video games with the NCAA's branding, which included its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball (formerly NCAA March Madness) series. The NCAA's licensing was not required to produce the games, as rights to use teams are not licensed through the NCAA, but through entities such as individual schools and the Collegiate Licensing Company. EA only acquired the license so that it could officially incorporate the Men's Division I Basketball Championship into its college basketball game series. The NCAA withdrew EA's license due to uncertainties surrounding a series of lawsuits, most notably O'Bannon v. NCAA, involving the use of player likenesses in college sports video games.
Football television controversy
In the late 1940s, there were only two colleges in the country with a national TV contract, a considerable source of revenue. In 1951, the NCAA voted to prohibit any live TV broadcast of college football games during the season. No sooner had the NCAA voted to ban television than public outcry forced it to retreat. Instead, the NCAA voted to restrict the number of televised games for each team to stop the slide in gate attendance. Harold Stassen, president of the University of Pennsylvania, defied the monopoly and signed a $200,000 contract with ABC. Eventually UPenn was forced to back down when the NCAA, refusing Penn's request that the U.S. Attorney General rule on the legality of the NCAA's restrictive plan, threatened to expel the Quakers from the association.
By the 1980s, televised college football had become a much larger source of income for the NCAA. In September 1981, the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia Athletic Association filed suit against the NCAA in district court in Oklahoma. The plaintiffs stated that the NCAA's football television plan constituted price fixing, output restraints, boycott, and monopolizing, all of which were illegal under the Sherman Act. The NCAA argued that its pro-competitive and non-commercial justifications for the plan – protection of live gate, maintenance of competitive balance among NCAA member institutions, and the creation of a more attractive "product" to compete with other forms of entertainment – combined to make the plan reasonable.
In September 1982, the district court found in favor of the plaintiffs, ruling that the plan violated antitrust laws. It enjoined the Association from enforcing the contract. The NCAA appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but lost in 1984 in the 7–2 ruling NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. (If the television contracts the NCAA had with ABC, CBS, and ESPN had remained in effect for the 1984 season, they would have generated some $73.6 million for the Association and its members.)
To participate in college athletics in their freshman year, the NCAA states that students must meet three requirements: having graduated from high school, be completing the minimum required academic courses, and having qualifying grade-point average (GPA) and SAT or ACT scores.
The 16 academic credits are four courses in English, two courses in math, two classes in social science, two in natural or physical science, and one additional course in English, math, natural or physical science, or another academic course such as a foreign language.
To meet the requirements for grade point average and SAT scores, the lowest possible GPA a student may be eligible with is a 1.70, as long as they have an SAT score of 1400. The lowest SAT scores a student may be eligible with is 700 as long as they have a GPA of 2.500.
As of 2011, a high school student may sign a letter of intent to enter and play football for a college only after the first Wednesday in February. In August 2011, the NCAA announced plans to raise academic requirements for postseason competition, including its two most prominent competitions, football's now-defunct Bowl Championship Series (replaced in 2014 by the College Football Playoff) and the Men's Division I Basketball Championship; the new requirement, which are based on an "academic progress rate" (APR) that measures retention and graduation rates, and is calculated on a four-year, rolling basis. The changes raise the rate from 900 to 930, which represents a 50% graduation rate.
Students are generally allowed to compete athletically for four years. Athletes are allowed to sit out a year while still attending school but not lose a year of eligibility by redshirting.
Member schools pledge to follow the rules promulgated by the NCAA. Creation of a mechanism to enforce the NCAA's legislation occurred in 1952 after careful consideration by the membership.
Allegations of rules violations are referred to the NCAA's investigative staff. A preliminary investigation is initiated to determine if an official inquiry is warranted and to categorize any resultant violations as secondary or major. If several violations are found, the NCAA may determine that the school as a whole has exhibited a "lack of institutional control." The institution involved is notified promptly and may appear in its own behalf before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Findings of the Committee on Infractions and the resultant sanctions in major cases are reported to the institution. Sanctions will generally include having the institution placed on "probation" for a period of time, in addition to other penalties. The institution may appeal the findings or sanctions to an appeals committee. After considering written reports and oral presentations by representatives of the Committee on Infractions and the institution, the committee acts on the appeal. Action may include accepting the infractions committee's findings and penalty, altering either, or making its own findings and imposing an appropriate penalty.
In cases of particularly egregious misconduct, the NCAA has the power to ban a school from participating in a particular sport, a penalty is known as the "Death Penalty". Since 1985, any school that commits major violations during the probationary period can be banned from the sport involved for up to two years. However, when the NCAA opts not to issue a death penalty for a repeat violation, it must explain why it did not do so. This penalty has only been imposed three times in its modern form, most notably when Southern Methodist University's football team had its 1987 season canceled due to massive rules violations dating back more than a decade. SMU opted not to field a team in 1988 as well due to the aftershocks from the sanctions, and the program has never recovered; it has only four winning seasons and four bowl appearance since then (mostly under June Jones, the team's head coach from 2008 until his resignation during the 2014 season). The devastating effect the death penalty had on SMU has reportedly made the NCAA skittish about issuing another one. Since the SMU case, there are only three instances where the NCAA has seriously considered imposing it against a Division I school; it imposed it against Division II Morehouse College's men's soccer team in 2003 and Division III MacMurray College's men's tennis team in 2005. In addition to these cases, the most recent division I school to be considered was Penn State. This because of the Jerry Sandusky Incident that consequently almost landed Penn State on the hook for the Death Penalty. They received a 60 million dollars fine, in addition to forfeited seasons and other sanctions as well.
Additionally, in particularly egregious cases of rules violations, coaches, athletic directors, and athletic support staff can be barred from working for any NCAA member school without permission from the NCAA. This procedure is known as a "show-cause penalty" (not to be confused with an order to show cause in the legal sense). Theoretically, a school can hire someone with a "show cause" on their record during the time the show cause order is in effect only with permission from the NCAA Infractions Committee. The school assumes the risks and stigma of hiring such a person. It may then end up being sanctioned by the NCAA and the Infractions Committee for their choice, possibly losing athletic scholarships, revenue from schools who would not want to compete with that other school, and the ability for their games to be televised, along with restrictions on recruitment and practicing times. As a result, a show-cause order essentially has the effect of blackballing individuals from being hired for the duration of the order.
The NCAA runs the officiating software company ArbiterSports, based in Sandy, Utah, a joint venture between two subsidiaries of the NCAA, Arbiter LLC and eOfficials LLC. The NCAA has said their objective is for the venture to help improve the fairness, quality, and consistency of officiating across amateur athletics.
As of 2014 the NCAA reported that it had over $600 million in unrestricted net assets in its annual report. Due to its tax exempt status as a non-for-profit the NCAA is not required to pay most taxes on in income that larger corporations are subject to. While this business model has been challenged during court cases, the NCAA has ultimately emerged victorious. During 2014 the NCAA also reported almost a billion dollars of revenue, contributing to a "budget surplus" of over $80 million. Due to its status as a non-for-profit additional money earned that is unspent is "budget surplus" instead of "profit". It received over $700 million during that same year from licensing TV rights to its sporting events. Along with income generated from its sporting events, the NCAA also earns money through its endowment fund. Established in 2004 with $45 million, the fund has grown to over $380 million in 2014.
The NCAA limits the amount of compensation that players can receive. This rule has generated controversy, in light of the large amounts of revenues that schools earn from sports from TV contracts, ticket sales, and licensing and merchandise. Several commentators have discussed whether the NCAA limit on player compensation violates antitrust laws.
Numerous criticisms have been lodged against the NCAA. These include, but are not limited to:
Other collegiate athletic organizations
The NCAA is the dominant, but not the only, collegiate athletic organization in the United States. Several other such collegiate athletic organizations exist.