Blood, Sweat and 40 Years

Forty years ago, Divisions II and III were carved out of the Association amid tension over how to make one big group fit the needs of hundreds of divergent institutions. Ever since, the divisions have been defining themselves – with every big game, every piece of legislation, every student-athlete success. Here's a look at the history-making moments, agenda-setting decisions and nail-biting finishes that have shaped them.

By Amy Wimmer Schwarb

1March 15, 1973
Dive in

Dacia Schileru, a diver at Wayne State (Mich.), becomes the first woman to compete in an NCAA championship.

Dacia Schileru was an accidental pioneer.

She was a student-athlete in the months after Congress approved Title IX, but years before the NCAA introduced women's championships. Born in Romania, she hadn't been in the United States long when she enrolled in college – and didn't realize that her trip to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships would be history making.

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2Aug. 7, 1973
Easy as I, II, III

Divisions II and III are born when the NCAA splits into three bodies.

By the time the NCAA conquered the dilemma of how to serve both big schools and small in one mammoth association, the problem had been festering for about 20 years.

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3Nov. 10, 1973
Off and running

The aptly named South Dakota State Jackrabbits win the cross country national championship, making them the first Division II champions.

4Nov. 10, 1973
Flying high

The Ashland Eagles capture the cross country national championship, making them the first Division III champions.

5Jan. 8, 1974
Different strokes

The Division III membership formalizes a ban on athletics scholarships and supports individual institutions' autonomy in determining admissions standards. The decision establishes two defining characteristics of Division III.

6Nov. 10, 1973
Off and running

In the first year women can be selected for the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, Joan Lange, a Division III swimmer at Allegheny, is among the recipients.

She was a suitable choice: a chemistry major with a 3.94 GPA who planned to attend medical school.

Lange, who specialized in the backstroke, was a four-year letter winner and was the first woman ever to place in the Presidents' Athletic Conference Swimming Championships. In her final year at Allegheny, she was also elected captain of the swim team – the men's swim team.

7Jan. 8, 1980
They got there first

At the Convention, while Division I makes headlines for voting against incorporating women’s sports into NCAA championships, Divisions II and III vote to establish those events for women in basketball, field hockey, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball.

8March 22, 1980
High water mark

Kenyon wins its first national championship in men's swimming and diving – and then wins 30 more, in a row.

Kenyon's legendary former swim coach, Jim Steen, considers "streak" to be a forbidden word. "We don't talk too much about streaks," he told Champion in 2009 for a story about, of course, streaks. "We put ourselves in position where we are just happy to win one."

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9Jan. 12, 1981
The academic track

The first university president to be elected to the Association's top leadership position is James Frank, president of Division II Lincoln (Mo.). He is also the first black president of the NCAA.

10Jan. 13, 1981
Follow the leaders

A year after Divisions II and III approved the first championships for some women's sports, Convention delegates adopt a governance plan that includes women's athletics programs and services within the NCAA structure.

11Nov. 21, 1981
Hit the ground running

South Dakota places five runners in the top 10 at the first Division II Women's Cross Country Championships. In field hockey, Pfeiffer tops Bentley in the first Division II Field Hockey Championship. Together, they are the division's first women's championship teams.

12Nov. 21, 1981
They're No. 1

In Division III, the first women's championship titles go to Central (Iowa), which takes home the cross country championship, and Trenton State (now The College of New Jersey), which defeats Franklin & Marshall for the field hockey championship.

13Jan. 12, 1983
On a mission

Division III recognizes that it is known for what it doesn't do – offer athletic scholarships – and not what it is. Following a five-year discussion, the division adopts a philosophy statement that defines its principles, such as the idea that student-athletes should be fully integrated into campus life. Even today, Division III policymakers use the philosophy to guide decisions.

14March 25, 1984
Double team

On this spring day, Central Missouri captures two Division II basketball championships — one for the men, one for the women — in a single afternoon.

Both Central Missouri teams were making their first appearance in a national championship final.

The men topped Saint Augustine's of Raleigh, N.C., 81-77, to claim the title. Then the women beat defending champion Virginia Union, 80-73, claiming a title of their own.

The next day, back home in Warrensburg, Mo., shops were closed. Classes were canceled. Students and residents lined a downtown street in heavy rain to welcome the teams home in a victory parade. The occasion marked the first time two programs from one school had won NCAA titles in a single day.

15Dec. 2, 1985
Judge by its cover

Division III's Joe Dudek is magazine's pick — for, yes, the Heisman.

In the fall of 1985, the early favorite to win the Heisman trophy was an Auburn running back named Bo Jackson. As the season progressed, Iowa quarterback Chuck Long began to pick up some credibility as a contender. Both, of course, were Division I standouts.

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16Dec. 13, 1986
Sweet home Alabama

The Division II Football Championship takes place in Florence, Ala., for the first time. The kickoff kicks off a 28-year tradition in the city.

17March 3, 1987
En garde

Michael Lofton of Division III New York University won the sabre event at the national fencing championships as a freshman. Then again, as a sophomore, and again as a junior. When Lofton wins his fourth and final title as a senior, he becomes the only man in NCAA history to win four individual titles in the same event at the fencing championships.

18Jan. 10, 1981
Presidential power

Judith Sweet, athletics director at Division III UC San Diego, becomes the first woman to be elected president of the NCAA.

19Nov. 23, 1992
Give me five

They cross the finish line — first, second, third, fourth, fifth — all wearing the green-and-gold-striped running shorts, all representing cross country powerhouse Adams State.

Phillip Castillo wins the meet, followed by Peter De La Cerda, David Brooks, Paul Stoneham and Jason Mohr.

Together, they are the perfect-scoring 1992 Division II Men's Cross Country Championships team — and men who know how to put the "we" in the solitary sport of running.

20Dec. 11, 1993
A happy union

Mount Union makes its first appearance in the Stagg Bowl, the Division III Football Championship game, and wins its first championship under coach Larry Kehres. The game kicks off a powerhouse run for Mount Union, which wins 11 championships and advances to the finals 17 times in 21 years.

21Jan. 13, 1999
That qualifies

Division III looks closely at how teams are selected for the postseason and decides that conference champions should automatically qualify. The rule, which remains in place today, applies when at least seven member schools sponsor a sport.

22Oct. 24, 1999
All-American way

Jamila Demby, a student-athlete who competes in track and field for UC Davis, is named Woman of the Year. The first-generation college graduate is a seven-time All-American and is the first Division II woman to earn the honor in the nine-year history of the award.

23Dec. 11, 1999
Party like it's 1999

Three minutes, 40 seconds remain. The score: Carson-Newman 44, Northwest Missouri State 29. Northwest Missouri State scores two touchdowns, the second – a 34-yard pass from Travis Miles to J.R. Hill with just 10 seconds left. After a two-point conversion, the game is tied. Four overtimes later, a 13-yard pass from Miles to Hill seals the 58-52 victory and makes the 1999 Division II championship game one of the most memorable ever.

24March 3, 2001
Wrestling with history

Double-amputee Division III wrestler takes home championship and Hodge Trophy.

As a kid, Nick Ackerman broke off the legs of his G.I. Joe's at the knees. He wanted to make them look "normal," just like him.

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25March 4, 2002
Pilot training

Division II institutions announce a test program, called the graduation success report project, which measures the success of all student-athletes — not just those who receive scholarships — and paves the way for the Academic Success Rate.

26March 10, 2003
Streak smarts

Division III keeps its seasons short so its student-athletes can be students. Those shorter seasons mean Damian Costantino is into his third season of a hitting streak when he sets an NCAA record of 60 straight games.

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27Nov. 1, 2003
Woman of honor

Kenyon's Ashley Jo Rowatt, a four-year qualifier for the NCAA Division III Women's Swimming and Diving Championships and part of three national championship teams, becomes the first NCAA Woman of the Year to be selected from a Division III school.

28Jan. 9, 2004
Change for good

The Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee establishes its partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and launches a spare-change drive at the Convention that generates $700. Today, the amount raised for the foundation totals $3 million.

29Jan. 12, 2004
Bright future

No redshirting. More limits on the length of playing seasons and practice time. A new electronic financial aid reporting process. The monumental Future of Division III legislative package is approved at the Convention.

30May 12-16, 2004
Festival atmosphere

When Division II introduces the first championships festival, it has a hit on its hands – not to mention six new champions in men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, softball and women's lacrosse.

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NCAA President Myles Brand speaks at the closing ceremonies of the inaugural NCAA Division II Sports Festival held in Orlando, Fla.

31Aug. 3, 2006
Jockey for position

Learning, service, balance, resourcefulness, passion, sportsmanship. The Division II Presidents Council adopts a strategic-positioning platform that articulates the attributes and benefits of Division II. Nine years later in the Division II census, more than two-thirds of those surveyed named the platform as one of the five most-valued characteristics of the division.

32Fall 2006
Decisions, decisions

Struggling to define itself, Division II adopts a slogan that will set the tone for its next several years. "I Chose Division II" would become something of a rallying cry for members, a way of reminding each other that they hadn't simply defaulted to this division.

33Dec. 5, 2006
On the air

Division II and CSTV, now CBS Sports, announce their deal to broadcast games via television and broadband. The arrangement calls for nine televised games — three football, three men's basketball and three women's basketball — and 72 available online.

34March 24, 2007
Streak fighter

For anyone who ever questioned whether small-college basketball can be as exciting as the big-school matchups, the 2007 Division II Men's Basketball Championship provides the answer.

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Barton's Anthony Atkinson reacts in disbelief after making the final two points to clinch a come-from-behind victory.

35Oct. 27, 2007
Lateral move

On a fall afternoon in Jackson, Miss., in a matchup between two Division III conference contenders, Trinity (Texas) pulls off an unlikely — some might say miraculous — win against Millsaps.

Footage of the wild finish has more than 1 million views on YouTube.

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36Jan. 10, 2008
On the ball

The NCAA unveils its new Champion magazine at the Convention, with Barry student-athlete Maya Ozery, who plays Division II soccer, on the first cover.

37March 7, 2008
Let's stay together

The results are in from a Division III membership survey that tackled whether the growing, diverse division should divide yet again to manage the contentious viewpoints of its members. And despite intense wrangling over the issues at the 2008 Convention, more than 80 percent of members say they want to work out the problems and remain together in Division III.

38Jan. 16, 2010
Balancing act

With ease and speed that surprised even the university presidents who had brought the issue to the division's attention just one year earlier, the Division II membership adopts the first phase of Life in the Balance — a landmark legislation package that limits practice time and competitive seasons. The initiative aims to help student-athletes be students.

39Jan. 15, 2011
Special relationship

The Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee partners with Special Olympics. About 200 Division III schools had existing relationships with area Special Olympics organizations, making the new partners an easy fit.

40Sept. 1, 2012
O Canada

Simon Fraser University of Burnaby, British Columbia, becomes the NCAA's first international member. The school joins Division II.