College Lacrosse Divisions

College Lacrosse Divisions:

Participating in college athletics can be a very rewarding experience. Many kids grow up believing they want to participate in NCAA lacrosse either at the Division I, II or III level but do not know the type of commitment that playing at these levels entails.

NCAA DIVISION I

If you talk to most lacrosse players, even those that play in the two professional leagues, they will tell you that NCAA Division I lacrosse is the level of lacrosse that requires the most commitment. Schools participating in NCAA Division I lacrosse typically have large enrollments but that is not always the case. NCAA Division I programs do offer athletic scholarships to the most elite players but each lacrosse program in Division I, as of 2010, can award a maximum of 12.6 full scholarships. This is called having a full compliment of athletic scholarships or as some say, the program is fully funded. Many NCAA Division I lacrosse programs only have a partial compliment of athletic scholarships to offer. For example, a university may decide to only allow their lacrosse program to award four (4) or six (6) athletic scholarships. Very, very rarely will a school offer a total athletic scholarship ("full ride") to one (1) lacrosse player. More typically, the school takes their 12.6 scholarships, or the number of scholarships the school gives the program, and splits them up amongst their roster giving away partial scholarships to the most talented members of each incoming class. These Division I colleges and universities also offer academic scholarships to those who qualify along with need, and in some instances, merit based financial aid. Therefore, it is possible for a student to receive some athletic scholarship money as well as academic scholarship money to go towards their tuition expenses. There are only sixty-seven (67) schools competing at the Division I level with each team carrying anywhere from thirty-five (35) to fifty (50) kids on a roster. With so many high school boys playing lacrosse, it is very difficult to earn a spot on an NCAA Division I roster. That being said, it is important for the player to ask themselves whether they want to make this commitment.

At the Division I level, you have on field supervised practices in the fall for approximately four (4) weeks. You have extremely rigorous off-season conditioning which sometimes occurs five (5) times a week. Then in the spring time you have practices five (5) times a week, two (2) hours a day, film study and sometimes two (2) games a week with some games requiring significant travel. Most NCAA Division I programs currently play in front of small crowds so there is not a lot of glory involved. Most NCAA Division I lacrosse schools are located in the East and Southeast so for the early part of the spring season you are practicing in extremely harsh weather conditions. The practices are extremely competitive where you must put out maximum effort each day to keep your roster spot let alone to get playing time. All of this along with the individual workouts which are required to keep up with and get ahead of the competition adds up to a huge time commitment under not so glorious conditions.

It is important to realize being a Division I lacrosse player is not all fun and games. Because of the time commitment, some refer to Division I athletics as a job. Balancing athletics and academics at the Division I level can be done but it is very difficult and it requires exceedingly good time management skills, commitment and discipline. Playing Division I lacrosse is a lot of fun with the right program but you must be extremely talented, truly love the sport and you must also love competition itself to be a partcipant at this level.

NCAA DIVSION II

The NCAA also offers lacrosse at the Division II level. As of 2014, fifty-six (56) NCAA Division II schools offer men’s lacrosse. Like Division I, Division II schools also offer athletic scholarships. As of 2010, the maximum number of athletic scholarships that a Division II lacrosse program may offer is 10.8. Like Division I, the Division II institutions typically split up the scholarships among the more talented players on their rosters.

Division II member schools are smaller than their Division I counterparts but the time commitment is very similar. The top level Division II teams could and sometimes do beat Division I teams. The Division II level of play is very high but the athletes are typically smaller than the athletes in Division I.

NCAA DIVISION III

One hundred two hundred seventeen (217) Division III schools offer NCAA lacrosse. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships but do offer academic scholarships and financial aid based on need, and in some instances, based on merit. The level of play at most Division III schools is very high and the top level Division III schools could beat many NCAA Division I and II teams.  Many of these schools have had lacrosse programs at their school for many years and have amazing lacrosse traditions.

At the top level of Division III, the time commitment is essentially the same as it is for Division I. 

MCLA

Outside of the NCAA divisions there are also club teams at many colleges and universities. If you want to play lacrosse in college there is always a place for you to play. There are different levels of play that require different levels of commitment and skill. MCLA (Men’s Club Lacrosse Association) teams are now at numerous large and small colleges and universities and there are even two divisions of play within the MCLA (larger schools Div. 1 and smaller schools Div. 2).There are institutions that have both NCAA lacrosse programs and also MCLA programs. Some MCLA teams do have cuts and others do not. Some MCLA programs receive funding from their respective schools and others do not.

Most MCLA teams do require their players to pay some sort of fee and the fee can vary greatly depending on the institution. During the spring, MCLA teams often practice at least three (3) times a week and some practice every week day and most have at least one (1) game on each weekend during the spring. There are different conferences within the MCLA, such as the Lonestar Lacrosse Association. To reach the MCLA tournament you typically have to win your conference. Some MCLA programs have now started to recruit players from around the country and also play Division I and III teams during the fall exhibition season.  These clubs take their lacrosse programs very seriously and the players make a significant time commitment to the club.

List for all Men's College Lacrosse Programs and Clubs:  CLICK HERE

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