NCAA: The Organization Behind College Athletics in the U.S.

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

NCAA signage placed on the floor.

NCAA: The Organization Behind College Athletics in the U.S.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization that governs and regulates intercollegiate athletics in the United States. The NCAA oversees more than 1,200 colleges and universities and their athletic programs.

The organization is responsible for creating and enforcing rules and regulations, organizing championships and tournaments, and promoting the well-being of student-athletes.

View of NCAA signage

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the NCAA, including its history, structure, governance, and important policies.

What is the history of the NCAA?

What is the background of the NCAA? The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded in 1906 as a way to bring structure and regulation to the growing world of college sports. Over the past century, the NCAA has grown into one of the most influential and powerful organizations in the world of sports.

Early Years

The NCAA was founded in response to growing concerns about the safety and fairness of college sports.

At the time, there were no standardized rules or regulations governing college athletics, and many schools were using dangerous and unsportsmanlike tactics to win games. This led to numerous injuries and even deaths on the playing field.

To address these issues, a group of college presidents and athletic directors came together to create the Intercollegiate Athletic Association (IAA) in 1906.

The IAA was later renamed the NCAA in 1910, and it quickly became the primary governing body for college sports in the United States.

Early on, the NCAA focused primarily on creating and enforcing rules for various sports, such as football, basketball, and track and field.

It also established standards for academic eligibility and athlete safety. By the 1920s, the NCAA had grown to include over 250 member schools and had become a powerful force in college athletics.

Expansion and Growth

Over the next few decades, the NCAA continued to expand its reach and influence. It added new sports to its roster, including baseball, swimming, and wrestling, and it established regional and national championships for these sports.

The NCAA also began to focus more on the academic success of student-athletes, setting minimum grade point average requirements and other standards for eligibility.

One of the biggest changes to the NCAA came in the 1950s and 1960s when the organization began to address issues of race and gender discrimination.

a female student reading through her notes posted on her mirror

In 1955, the NCAA created the Committee on Discrimination, which was charged with investigating complaints of racial discrimination in college athletics.

The committee’s work helped to bring about significant changes in college sports, including the integration of black athletes and the creation of new opportunities for women.

Modern Era

Today, the NCAA is a massive organization with over 1,200 member schools and more than 460,000 student-athletes. It generates billions of dollars in revenue each year, primarily through its television contracts and sponsorship deals.

The NCAA remains a vital and influential organization in the world of college sports. Its policies and initiatives are designed to promote fair competition and ensure the academic and athletic success of student-athletes, and its championship events continue to be some of the most exciting and highly anticipated in all sports.

What is the purpose of the NCAA?

What is supposed to be accomplished by taking part in NCAA? The NCAA has several important purposes and functions, which are aimed at promoting fair competition, protecting the well-being of student-athletes, and ensuring the academic success of college students who participate in sports.

Regulation of Sports

One of the primary purposes of the NCAA is to regulate and oversee college sports. It establishes rules and standards for various sports, such as football, basketball, and track and field, and it enforces these rules through its member schools and conferences.

The NCAA is responsible for setting the rules and regulations for eligibility, recruiting, and competition, as well as for ensuring that schools and coaches follow these rules. This helps to promote fair competition and prevent cheating and other unethical behavior.

Protecting Student-Athletes

Another important purpose of the NCAA is to protect the well-being of student-athletes. The organization is committed to promoting athlete safety and preventing injuries, and it provides guidelines and recommendations for schools and coaches to follow in order to minimize the risk of injury.

The NCAA also has policies and programs in place to help student-athletes manage their physical and mental health.

For example, it requires schools to provide access to medical care and insurance for student-athletes, and it offers education and prevention programs to help student-athletes make healthy choices.

Academic Success

In addition to regulating sports and protecting student-athletes, the NCAA is also focused on ensuring the academic success of college students who participate in sports.

International students participating in a class

The organization has established minimum academic eligibility requirements for student-athletes, which are designed to ensure that they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree.

The NCAA also provides academic support programs and resources for student-athletes, such as tutoring, study groups, and academic advising. These programs are designed to help student-athletes balance their academic and athletic commitments and achieve academic success.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Another important purpose of the NCAA is to promote diversity and inclusion in college sports. The organization is committed to creating opportunities for student-athletes of all backgrounds, and it has implemented several initiatives to help achieve this goal.

For example, the NCAA has established rules and guidelines to promote gender equity in college sports, such as requiring schools to provide equal opportunities and resources for male and female athletes.

It has also established programs to support the academic and athletic success of student-athletes from underrepresented backgrounds, such as first-generation college students and students from low-income families.

What is the structure of the NCAA?

What kind of organizational structure does the NCAA have? Understanding the structure of the NCAA is important for anyone who wants to navigate the world of college sports or get involved in NCAA activities.

Here is a comprehensive overview of the structure of the NCAA:

Board of Governors

The Board of Governors is the highest governing body of the NCAA. It is composed of 20 members, including university presidents, athletics directors, and student-athletes.

The Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the NCAA and ensuring that the organization’s activities are aligned with its mission and values.

The Board of Governors is also responsible for appointing the NCAA president and approving the budgets and major policies of the NCAA.

NCAA President

The NCAA President is the chief executive officer of the organization and serves as the primary spokesperson for the NCAA.

The President is responsible for implementing the policies and decisions of the Board of Governors, managing the day-to-day operations of the NCAA, and representing the NCAA in meetings with external stakeholders.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the governance of the NCAA. It is composed of 24 members, including university presidents, athletics directors, and faculty representatives.

The Board of Directors is responsible for setting policy and making decisions related to NCAA rules, regulations, and programs.

In addition to this, the Board of Directors is in charge of appointing the members of the NCAA committees and determining the roles that they will play.


The NCAA has several committees that are responsible for overseeing different aspects of the organization’s activities.

These committees are composed of individuals who are appointed by the Board of Directors and serve on a volunteer basis. The major committees of the NCAA include the:

Committee on Infractions: This committee is responsible for investigating and adjudicating alleged NCAA rules violations by member schools and individuals.

Committee on Academic Performance: This committee is responsible for monitoring the academic progress of student-athletes and ensuring that member schools are complying with NCAA academic eligibility rules.

Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports: This committee is responsible for developing policies and guidelines related to sports medicine, health, and welfare.

Committee on Women’s Athletics: This committee is responsible for promoting gender equity and ensuring that female student-athletes have equal opportunities and resources as male student-athletes.


The NCAA is divided into three divisions, each of which has its own set of rules and regulations. These divisions are based on the size and resources of member schools and the level of competition in different sports.

Division I: This division includes the largest and most well-funded schools, with the most competitive sports programs. Division I schools are required to meet certain financial and academic standards and offer a minimum number of athletic scholarships.

Division II: This division includes smaller schools with less funding and less competitive sports programs. Division II schools are required to meet academic standards and offer a minimum number of athletic scholarships.

Division III: This division includes schools that do not offer athletic scholarships and have a primary focus on academics. Division III schools are required to meet academic standards and do not have any financial or resource requirements for their athletic programs.


The NCAA is composed of over 1,100 member schools, which are organized into conferences based on geography and competitive level.

Conferences are responsible for overseeing competition between member schools and enforcing NCAA rules and regulations.

Conferences also have their own governance structures, which are composed of athletics directors, faculty representatives, and other officials.

What are the current policies of the NCAA?

What are the rules that are now in effect for the NCAA? NCAA has a set of policies and regulations that govern college sports in the United States. These policies cover a range of areas, including academic eligibility, recruiting, financial aid, and sportsmanship. Here is a comprehensive overview of the current policies of the NCAA:

Academic Eligibility

The NCAA has strict academic eligibility requirements for student-athletes. To be eligible to compete in NCAA sports, student-athletes must meet certain academic standards, including:

  • Maintaining a minimum GPA (grade point average) in high school courses that are required for NCAA eligibility.
  • Achieving a minimum score on standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT.
  • Completing a certain number of core courses, which vary by sport and division.

Student-athletes must also maintain their academic eligibility throughout their college careers by meeting minimum GPA requirements and making satisfactory academic progress toward their degree.


The NCAA has rules and regulations governing the recruiting of high school athletes by college coaches. These rules aim to ensure fair and ethical recruiting practices and prevent the exploitation of high school athletes.

Some of the key policies related to recruiting include:

  • Limits on the number of recruiting visits and contacts that coaches can have with prospective student-athletes.
  • Restrictions on the types of benefits that coaches can provide to prospective student-athletes, such as transportation and meals.
  • Rules governing the timing of recruiting activities, such as when coaches can contact high school athletes and make scholarship offers.

Financial Aid

The NCAA has policies governing the distribution of financial aid to student-athletes. These policies aim to ensure that financial aid is awarded fairly and does not provide an unfair competitive advantage to certain schools.

financial aid as one of the factors to consider when choosing a college

Some of the key policies related to financial aid include:

  • Limits on the number of athletic scholarships that can be awarded by each school.
  • Requirements that schools provide equal financial aid opportunities for male and female student-athletes.
  • Prohibitions on the payment of compensation to student-athletes for their athletic performance.


The NCAA has policies and guidelines governing sportsmanship and ethical conduct in college sports. These policies aim to promote fair play, respect, and integrity among student-athletes, coaches, and fans.

sports equipment

Some of the key policies related to sportsmanship include:

  • Codes of conduct for student-athletes, coaches, and fans.
  • Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct, such as taunting, fighting, and abusive language.
  • Requirements for schools to promote good sportsmanship and provide education and training for student-athletes and coaches on ethical conduct.

Other Policies

In addition to the above policies, the NCAA has a range of other regulations and guidelines that govern college sports, including:

  • Rules governing the use of performance-enhancing drugs and substances.
  • Policies related to the health and safety of student-athletes, including concussion management and injury prevention.
  • Regulations governing the scheduling and format of NCAA championships and tournaments.

The NCAA is constantly reviewing and updating its policies and regulations to ensure that they are effective, fair, and in the best interests of college sports and student-athletes.

As a result, the NCAA has undertaken several reviews and reforms of its policies in these areas, and it is likely that there will continue to be changes and updates to NCAA policies in the coming years.

What is the future like for NCAA?

What does the foreseeable future hold for the NCAA? The future of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a topic of much discussion and debate, with many questions about what changes may be in store for college sports in the United States. Here are some of the key factors that may shape the future of the NCAA:

Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL)

One of the biggest potential changes for the NCAA is the adoption of policies allowing student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

In the past, NCAA rules prohibited student-athletes from receiving any financial compensation beyond their athletic scholarships.

However, recent legal challenges and legislative actions have put pressure on the NCAA to allow student-athletes to profit from their NIL.

In 2021, the NCAA finally adopted new policies allowing student-athletes to profit from their NIL, although there are still many details to be worked out.

The implementation of NIL policies could have major implications for the NCAA, including changes to recruiting, team dynamics, and the overall landscape of college sports.

Conference Realignment

Another factor that may shape the future of the NCAA is conference realignment. Over the past decade, there has been a significant movement among schools between conferences, driven largely by financial considerations and the desire to align with schools with similar characteristics and goals.

Conference realignment has the potential to alter the balance of power in college sports, with some conferences becoming stronger and more competitive while others may struggle to remain relevant.

It could also lead to changes in scheduling, television contracts, and other aspects of college sports.

Competition from Other Leagues

The NCAA is not the only organization involved in college sports. Other leagues and associations, such as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), offer their own programs and competitions.

In addition, there are growing calls for the creation of alternative leagues that offer compensation and other benefits to student-athletes beyond what is currently provided by the NCAA.

These leagues could potentially offer increased competition and opportunities for student-athletes.

AdmissionSight is willing to help

The NCAA plays a crucial role in the world of college sports, providing governance and regulation for thousands of student-athletes across the country. While it has faced criticism and controversy over the years, the NCAA continues to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of college athletics.

Its policies and initiatives are designed to promote the well-being of student-athletes and ensure fair competition, and its championship events are some of the most exciting and highly anticipated in all sports.

While we’re on the subject of being well-informed, you should seek the advice of specialists who specialize in the field of college admissions, such as those at AdmissionSight, to improve your chances of acceptance.

We at AdmissionSight would be happy to assist you in realizing your goal. AdmissionSight has become the most trusted name in the field of college admissions advice as a result of its more than a decade of expertise assisting students just like you in gaining admission to the colleges of their first and second preferences.

Please get in touch with us as soon as you can so that we can schedule an initial consultation that will be provided free of charge.



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