11 NCAA Div. III national team championships
FOR MORE INFORMATION on Division III Week:
PELLA — Central College is helping recognize “Division III Week” April 8-14.
The celebration is part of the NCAA Division III identity initiative which seeks to raise the public profile of Division III institutions as places where student-athletes can “follow your passions and develop your potential.”
Special Olympics partnership--The week also highlights Division III’s developing partnership with Special Olympics, one of many outreach activities involving Division III student-athletes. Several are expected to assist in a Special Olympics track and field meet being hosted by Simpson College in Indianola Tuesday afternoon.
The Central men’s cross country and track and field squads organized a 12-hour Special Olympics Run in September at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium, raising $2,365 for the organization.
An ideal balance--Central junior Brie Haycraft (Eldridge, North Scott HS), a pitcher for the nationally ranked Dutch softball team, values her Division III experience.
“Division III achieves the perfect balance of academics and athletics,” she said. “I feel privileged to be able to pursue my dreams and dedicate myself to the sport I love.
“Division III athletes are driven by their passion for the competition--we devote our time and efforts expecting no more reward than our own self-satisfaction. I value competing at this level because it provides me with an opportunity to improve myself as an athlete without sacrificing my education and my future.”
Central a Division III pioneer--Central’s Division III ties are vast. Retired Central president Kenneth J. Weller authored the first Division III philosophy statement , which advocated that the focus of intercollegiate athletics should be on benefits for the participant rather than the spectator, and that student-athletes be treated no differently than students involved in other cocurricular activities. He was called a “founding father” of Division III by The Intercollegiate Athletic Forum in 1996.
Weller was instrumental in the incorporation of women into the NCAA in the early 1980s and Central won the first women’s national championship ever staged by the NCAA, taking the Division III women’s cross country title in 1981. The Dutch have captured 11 NCAA national team championships overall, winning titles in six sports, starting with the 1974 Division III football title.
“Central is deeply rooted in Division III,” said president Mark Putnam. “The college has provided leadership within Division III throughout its history, starting with Ken Weller, who was an integral part of Division III’s formation, to hall of fame football coach Ron Schipper. Our former dean of students, Marjorie Giles, who was the first female president of the Iowa Conference, also served on the NCAA Council, and many others have led as well.
“We join hundreds of other institutions in celebrating Division III as a place where students truly can follow their passions, participating in nationally competitive athletics programs without sacrificing opportunities to immerse themselves in rigorous academic pursuits, participate in transformative study abroad experiences or pursue any number of other cocurricular activities which offer potential for growth and development.”
Division III is the NCAA’s largest division, with 447 members representing 43 conferences. More than 80 percent are private institutions and the schools are diverse, with enrollment ranging from 363 to 20,483. The average Division III school enrolls 2,625 students. Central’s 2012-13 enrollment in is 1,500. Division III stages championships in 28 sports. Central offers 19.
More than 178,000 student-athletes compete in Division III, about 40 percent of all those in the NCAA.