NCAA is a division worth discussing

So much of college sports revolve around the NCAA and its guidelines; it is one of the biggest and most powerful organizations in sports. While the view on its role in athletics is polarizing, nobody can mistake that it is a very influential entity.

However, not every sports team has the luxury of being in the financial umbrella of the NCAA. The paths of these clubs who play under other leagues have both a freedom in how they organize themselves, but also different ways they see competition and finances.

While the amount of luxury that a program can obtain depends on the division they play in. Being in either Division I, II or III has a variation not in sport rules, but in rules dealing with finances, insurance and regulations regarding athletes. Club sports are significantly less regulated, but still face the challenge of many things associated with not being a NCAA member.

Club hockey president Matthew Porter said that they follow NCAA enforced rules and regulations but said that the big difference between being sanctioned by the NCAA instead of the American Collegiate Hockey Association would be the competition and scholarships.

“We would need to be able to compete in the NCAA. The NCAA has some of the top players in the country,” Porter said. “We have had some kids that played in the NCAA but these players came to play club hockey because in the ACHA you are eligible for five years of club hockey rather than the normal four years in NCAA.”

Even though these club teams have freedom in organizing their team, choosing their competition and finding funding, not everyone is satisfied with being independent. In fact, DePaul Men’s Club Lacrosse president Jack Glasbrenner is quite frustrated that his team isn’t in a NCAA division, stating that “they choose not to have a team” and that the school is missing out on money.

“The university has to decide to bring on a D1 team,” said Glasbrenner. “If they don’t consider taking on a team in the next two years, they will be missing out on resurrecting their athletics program as well as the hotbed of Chicago lacrosse. It is embarrassing that the face of Chicago lacrosse is Northwestern women’s team and Notre Dames men’s team.”

While it is tantalizing for any sport to want to jump to Division I, the initiation process is long, arduous, and uncertain. When a school wants to make the move, the main thing their application depends on is how much money the school is willing to allocate toward the program. As the school is considering this, the program needs to decide the level of competition they want to face. Each division has its own set of regulations, such as Division III schools not being allowed to give out athletic scholarships and Division I schools having to have a minimum amount of practices.

After all of this is decided upon the program must go through a one-year exploratory period where they attend orientations on the rules and regulations of the division.

After that year, they must go through a four-year period of reclassifying/provisions where their facilities and organizational structure are inspected and they continue to learn about the division’s rules. They also must pay a $20,000 membership fee, which is the price for Division III and could only be much higher for a program wanting to go to Division I.

This whole process is too much to worry about for a team like the DePaul club football team, who are looking toward their first season this fall, because the pressures and logistics of the NCAA would make it hard for their team to get off the ground. Executive Board member Devin Miller believes that being in the National Club Football Association first will be better to build the club into a NCAA program.

“It is easier to build a team in a shorter period of time,” said Miller. “The initial start-up costs to join the NCFA are minimal compared to the NCAA costs. The NCFA honestly makes playing the game more enjoyable for the people who truly want to play without the pressures of the NCAA.”

So in the end, a club sport has a choice; they refuse to go through the long process of joining the NCAA so they can have more organizational freedom but at the loss of scholarships, expansive insurance and high competition. Or they can apply along with DePaul University at the price of spending huge amounts of money in membership dues, facility upgrading to NCAA standards and putting the organization under lots of restrictions.