In the USA there are around 3000 universities/colleges in different locations, levels of academics & athletics, and costs.
Typically the best athletes go to NCAA Division 1 and the majority of people who go professional come from this level, but this does not mean the standard of athletics is any lower in other divisions and definitely doesn’t mean you can’t go professional. If you perform well, you will be seen.
NCAA – National Collegiate Athletic Association
The NCAA is non-profit membership-driven organization that safeguards the well-being of student-athletes. Most NCAA members are from universities and colleges. The NCAA works to help more than 460,000 student-athletes to succeed academically, athletically and professionally. The NCAA is the largest University Athletic governing body in the world.
3 divisions of NCAA:
Division I, Division II, and Division III. Each of these division have their own athletic and academic requirements. The factors which determine these requirements are enrollment numbers, the financial availability for sports, number of sports in the institution, and the number of tournaments/games played. Division 1 & 2 have athletic scholarships & Division 3 does not offer athletic scholarship. Division 1 has the largest number of institutions and also offers the largest scholarships within all 3 divisions.
NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
Each year more than 65,000 student-athletes in 13 sports who compete in about 26 national championships compete with the NAIA. About $600 million are available to the NAIA for athletic scholarships among all its member colleges and universities. NAIA institutions vary widely on the maximum scholarship offer a student can receive and the scholarship limit is set by the University/College. The NAIA is similar to the NCAA but the major difference is the NAIA has less restrictions.
NJCAA – National Junior College Athletics Association
The NJCAA has the least restrictions of the NCAA & NAIA. NJCAA institutions are two year programs which means the student-athlete must transfer after two years. NJCAA institutions offer varying amount of scholarships and scholarships limits are set by the colleges.
CCCAA – California Community College Athletic Association
The California Community College Athletic Association is an integral part of California’s extensive community college system. As authorized by the State Legislature, the Education Code provides the CCCAA the opportunity and authority to establish the rules and regulations to administer the athletic activities of the nearly 25,000 men and women student athletes in the state. The CCCAA only offers academic scholarships.
USCAA – United States Collegiate Athletic Association
The USCAA is a national governing body that provides quality intercollegiate athletic competitions on a national level. The USCAA exists to provide small colleges the opportunity to compete against like institutions in size and resources for National Championships and student-athlete recognition. By providing unique services to small colleges, the USCAA allows it members the opportunity to enhance their recruiting capabilities by way of more consistent national recognitions and a level playing field for post-season competition. Its is possible for a USCAA school to have a dual affiliation within the NAIA, NCAA D2 or NCCAA.
NCCAA – National Christian College Athletic Association
The National Christian College Athletic Association is an association of the Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education, evangelism, and encouragement. The NCCAA has 94 member schools, over 17,000 student-athletes, 24 championship sports and dual affiliates within the NAIA and NCAA (D2 & D3).