Do Division II Schools Recruit?
As a prospective collegiate athlete, you are probably wondering if division II schools recruit, and what exactly that level of recruiting entails.
Division II schools do recruit, but the rules and scholarship capacities differ from that of Division I and Division III. There are specific NCAA restrictions in place for when coaches may contact prospective athletes for Division II recruiting. In addition, there is less athletic scholarship money available for Division II, which makes it harder to pursue financial support with a Division II athletic program. Academics play a major role in Division II scholarships, because these programs are often able to combine athletic and academic scholarships to offer recruits the most beneficial package possible.
Why Division II?
Before considering recruitment for Division II athletic programs, you’ll want to understand how they differ from Division I and Division III from a general perspective.
Division I: Division I is the most highly competitive level of collegiate athletics. These tend to be bigger, more established programs, and as a result these schools can offer the most scholarship money largely due to revenue generated by athletic programs and overall greater endowments of the schools. Playing a sport at a Division I school is like a full-time job – the time commitment, expectations, and level of play will exceed that of Division II and Division III.
Division II: Division II athletics offers more of a balance between level of competition, academics, and overall experience. Division II programs do offer athletic scholarships, which is an important distinction between Division II and Division III. However, due to the smaller nature of Division II schools, there is less athletic scholarship money available. We’ll cover Division II athletic scholarships more extensively later on. Overall, a student-athlete in a Division II program can expect a more relaxed experience than Division I, but more strenuous time commitments and higher competition levels than Division III.
Division III: Division III programs can be highly competitive in some cases, but as a general rule Division III offers a collegiate experience that is more evenly divided between athletics, academics, and social life or opportunities away from the playing field or the classroom. Like Division II, these are often smaller schools, however Division III programs do not offer any athletic scholarships at all.
So, you might be wondering why a Division II program would suit you best versus Division I or Division II. Here are some important things to consider:
- Division II offers a higher level of play and competition than Division III, but it is not as elite as Division I. This might allow you achieve the amount of playing time and team contribution that you desire but would not be able to obtain at the Division I level.
- Athletic scholarships are available, which can be a huge factor in choosing the school that is the best financial option for you.
- Division II schools are often much smaller than Division I. This can be important to consider if you would prefer to be a well-known starter at a smaller Division II as opposed to another roster spot at a large Division I school.
Recruiting Rules And Contact Dates For Division II Schools
The NCAA places certain restrictions on the recruiting process for Division II schools. There are specific dates that collegiate programs and prospective athletes must adhere to in terms of communication. You might be curious why some of these restrictions exist. The thing to keep in mind is that the NCAA has a duty to protect student-athletes and ensure that they are given fair opportunities throughout their recruitment. The guidelines in place help regulate the entire process and provide fairness to prospects in their consideration of different schools.
The following outlines general dates and guidelines of the NCAA for Division II recruiting while prospective student-athletes are in high school:
Evaluation: Coaches may evaluate players during specific “evaluation periods” at any time throughout high school.
Non-Recruiting Materials: Institutions can send questionnaires, sports camp brochures, NCAA informational materials, and other non-recruiting information at any time.
Recruiting Materials: Coaches can begin sending written recruiting materials (including e-mail) to prospective athletes after September 1 of their Junior Year of high school.
On-Campus Communication: Coaches can talk to athletes in person at any time on the college campus.
Phone Calls and Off-Campus Communication: Coaches can accept phone calls placed by prospective athletes at any time, but coaches themselves cannot initiate phone calls or arrange off-campus contact until June 15 following their Junior Year of high school.
Unofficial Visits: Prospective athletes can make unofficial visits to college campuses at any time without restriction.
Official Visits: After June 15 following Junior Year of high school, institutions can invite prospective athletes to campus for an official visit. Athletes may only take one official visit per school, and the visit itself cannot occur earlier than the first day of their senior year of high school.
Division II Academic Requirements
There are specific academic requirements that must be met for a student-athlete to enroll in a Division II school and potentially receive athletic scholarships. These standards were updated by the NCAA on August 1, 2018, so it is important to keep up to date and know exactly what you need to achieve in order to qualify.
The NCAA distinguishes different types of academic qualification and places specific restrictions on each:
Full Qualifier: Student-athlete may practice, compete and receive athletic scholarships during their first year of enrollment at an NCAA Division II school. Complete 16 core courses Minimum core-course GPA of 2.20 Earn SAT/ACT score matching core-course GPA on the Division II sliding scale Graduate High School
Partial Qualifier: Student-athlete may receive athletic scholarships during their first year and may practice with the team during their first academic term, but may NOT compete during their first year of enrollment. Complete 16 core courses Minimum core-course GPA of 2.00 Earn SAT/ACT score matching core-course GPA on the Division II sliding scale Graduate High School
Nonqualifier: Student-athlete may not practice, compete, or receive athletic scholarships during their first year of enrollment at a Division II school.
For an overview of the test score sliding scale and a full breakdown of Division II academic requirements, visit the NCAA’s website.
Do Division II Schools Give Athletic Scholarships?
Division II schools do give athletic scholarships, but there is far less scholarship money available than typical Division I programs. This is largely due to the fact that Division II schools are often smaller and simply have less money, and the lower competition level of Division II athletics generates less revenue that can be reinvested in the form of athletic scholarships. While athletic scholarship money is available for Division II programs, the reality is that it is extremely rare to receive a full scholarship, and more difficult in general to be granted a partial scholarship.
Partial-Scholarship Model: Division II programs use a partial-scholarship model to grant athletic scholarships to players. This is also known as an “equivalency” system, where schools can administer a certain amount of athletic scholarships that are “equivalent” to a specified number of full scholarships, which varies across each sport. For example, Division II Men’s Basketball programs are allotted an equivalency limit of 10 full scholarships, which then must be divided amongst the entire team at the discretion of the athletic staff.
Academics: With restricted scholarship capacities in Division II, academics play a major role in financial aid. At Division II schools, student-athletes have the ability to earn academic scholarships on top of athletic scholarships if they qualify. It is extremely important to focus on achieving good test scores and maintaining a high GPA as it can give you the best opportunity to minimize tuition wherever you decide to play.
How Can I Get Recruited To Play Division II?
Communicate: The NCAA does not restrict prospective athletes from initiating contact with coaches, so you always have the ability to reach out and express interest. This will get you on the radar and allow you to start building communication at potential landing spots.
Visits: Take unofficial visits to schools and talk to coaches, while also getting a feel for the campus and determining if it’s somewhere you might want to play. If invited, take official visits to campuses where you can get full exposure and information needed to help your decision.
Academics: GPA and test scores are extremely important for Division II programs due to limited athletic scholarships. Study hard and give yourself opportunities to earn as many opportunities as possible from additional academic scholarships and grants.
Things To Keep In Mind
Experience: Division II offers a unique balance between Division I and Division III athletics. The level of play is still highly competitive and athletic scholarships are available, but you will still have some freedom to experience college outside of your athletic pursuit.
Scholarship Limits: There is not nearly as much athletic scholarship money in Division II as there is in Division I, but the availability of any money makes it a better financial alternative to Division III. Work hard in school and try to stack academic scholarships on top of whatever athletic scholarships you are offered.
Size: Division II schools are often smaller. This can be appealing to student athletes who would prefer to have a bigger presence and contribution than they might have playing Division I, but everyone has their own preferences.
NCAA Rules: Remember that the NCAA places restrictions on the ability of coaches and institutions to initiate contact with you, but there are very few restrictions on you reaching out to them. Be proactive and express interest, but make sure you are aware of specific NCAA regulations throughout your recruitment process.