Friday, May 20, 2011

Division III Schools Flex Their Sports Muscles

courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Don't look now, college-sports behemoths, but in some of the lower-profile NCAA sports like tennis, swimming and lacrosse, there's an unlikely new force welling up to give you a run for your money: those precious liberal-arts colleges that don't offer athletic scholarships.

After years of serving as an occasional appetizer for Division I programs, a growing number of teams from Division III, the NCAA's lowest tier, have been scoring major upsets. In November, Kenyon's D-III men's swim team beat Miami (Ohio). Emory's men's tennis team recently crushed Georgetown while the University of Chicago took down Dayton. At a women's golf tournament last year, Williams (Mass.) finished ahead of several Division I teams including Hofstra and Boston University. Last month, the baseball team from Minnesota's University of St. Thomas stunned the University of Minnesota by five runs.

The rise of D-III has much to do with the changing nature and availability of scholarships. The NCAA's Division I has seen a net loss of 106 wrestling teams, 72 men's tennis teams and 18 men's swim teams over the past 20 years. On many teams that remain, scholarships are becoming scarce. As schools rush to comply with Title IX, men's D-I tennis teams usually only have about four scholarships per team (or fewer) while women's teams generally have twice as many.

With fewer scholarships, talented athletes who would have gone with the tuition subsidy in years past are now free to go wherever they want—and in may cases they're choosing the better school with less athletic pressure, even if it might cost them a lot more in tuition."

Link to WSJ story

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