A recent trend in college athletics, which has been flying under the radar, is that a growing percentage of top high school athletes are deciding to play sports at Division III programs (where there aren’t any athletic scholarships) instead of Division I universities. The reason is primarily three-fold: 1) Besides the high-profile sports — football, men’s and women’s basketball, and in some cases women’s volleyball — the vast majority of college athletic scholarships are only “partials,” meaning they cover only a fraction of the tuition bill (in many cases, only one-third or one-fourth the cost of tuition); 2) Division I programs, despite only offering partial scholarships, demand students to make a much larger commitment of time to practices, team meetings, etc. relative to their Division III counterparts (taking away from the overall college experience); and 3) True student-athletes, whose focus is getting a quality education, are choosing the better schools that populate the Division III level — schools that also have less athletic pressure — even if it means paying more in tuition (although in some cases, student-athletes can receive substantial need-based aid or academic merit scholarships at Division III schools).
A by-product of this trend is that top Division-III teams have been regularly beating Division I teams — especially in men’s and women’s tennis, men’s swimming, women’s golf, and other lower profile sports. Men’s lacrosse is a prime example. Scott Craig, the boy’s lacrosse coach at West Islip High School in New York believes the playing field in his sport at the college level is nearly flat, saying, “Once you get past the top 15 or 20 D-I schools, the top D-III teams can totally compete.”
Craig says the allure of Division III colleges is “You can go to Division III and have a more academic setting. You don’t have that kind of offseason commitment that you have in D-I.” That is appealing to a large number of high school recruits that are now choosing the best schools they can get into academically. A key point is that there is an abundance of need-based aid and academic-based merit scholarships available for economically-disadvantaged high school seniors looking to go to college and continue their athletic careers.
The League of Fans is pushing for a return to the original intent of college athletics: real students interested in making sports part of their overall educational experience while on campus.
It looks like we are beginning to trend that way.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon