The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. It is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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).
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.
CBS: Men's basketball (NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, with Turner Sports, and NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Tournament), track and field, ice hockey (women's division I)
ESPN: Women's basketball (all divisions), baseball, softball, ice hockey (men's division I), football (all divisions including Div. I FCS), soccer (division I for both sexes)
Dial Global 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.
Video games based on popular NCAA sports such as football and basketball are licensed by Electronic Arts.
To participate in college athletics in the freshmen year the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) states that students must meet three requirements; graduate from high school, complete the minimum required academic courses, and have 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 foreign language.
To meet the requirements for grade point average and SAT scores students the lowest possible GPA a student may be eligible with is a 1.700 with an SAT score of 1400. The lowest SAT score a student may be eligible with is 700 with 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 Bowl Championship Series and the Men's Division I Basketball Championship; the new requirement, which are based on an "academic progress rate" 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.