BY RUSSELL C. WRIGHT
Increasingly, senior student affairs officers (SSAOs) find themselves managing intercollegiate athletics at their respective institutions, particularly at colleges and universities that compete at the Division II (DII) and Division III (DIII) levels of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). To successfully guide college athletics programs, SSAOs must broaden their understanding of the role
and value of athletics as well as increase their knowledge of the intricacies of DII and DIII requirements. It
is vital for SSAOs to integrate the philosophy and mission of athletics programs with the institutional and
student affairs philosophy and mission.
DII and DIII athletics programs are experiencing growth
and are working to adapt to the changing landscape of collegiate athletics. Athletics programs at these levels share strong
philosophical statements that combine the passion for sports
and competition with comprehensive collegiate experiences for
student-athletes. However, these aspects are frequently overshadowed by concerns about diversity, enrollment numbers,
and financial aid.
Largely housed in the shadow of big-time, revenue-produc-ing Division I (DI) football and men’s basketball programs,
DII and DIII athletics continue to thrive and grow in terms
of the number of institutions participating and the importance of intercollegiate athletics to the fabric of an institution.
Recently, administrative leaders, including presidents, chancellors, vice presidents, and directors of athletics in DII and DIII
institutions, wanted to further examine the values and identi-ties of their respective divisions.
Two recent studies, commissioned by the NCAA, shed
light on the synergy of student-athletes, intercollegiate
athletics programs, and institutions. The findings are particularly important to SSAOs who are charged with managing
Division II Athletics Programs
In early 2008, the NCAA evaluated the real costs of the
investments made by DII schools in their athletics programs
and the value returned on those investments in a study titled
“The Value of Division II Athletics.” Since DII intercollegiate
athletics programs do not drive significant external revenue
numbers, student affairs and athletics administrators are con-
sistently asked to justify the costs of the programs. The study
focused on the benefits that DII members received from their
unique partial scholarship model. Many DII schools offer
a large number of partial scholarships, rather than a smaller
number of “full scholarships,” which are more commonly
offered at the DI level.