3 Reasons Student-Athletes Should Look Beyond DI

(Part 1 of 2)

“She emailed every DI attending this college showcase.”

“He only wants to run for a DI.”

“She has ‘DI on the brain’.”

“He is waiting for a DI scholarship offer.”

Looking for a Full Ride? by: Coach Renee LopezThese statements have been made by coaches and parents across numerous playing fields, courts, and pools across the country. Many student-athletes take an approach in the college recruiting process that NCAA Division I is the only level they want to compete for in college. However, it is important for student-athletes to find the right fit for themselves academically, athletically, and socially. And finding the right fit may include looking into other programs beyond Division I.
Having deeply researched the recruiting process by interviewing 65 college coaches and athletic directors over the past year for my upcoming book (due out Summer 2019), Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide, and having been a college coach for 14 years across all NCAA divisions, I believe there are 3 reasons you should look at other levels:

  1. It is easier to find the balance of being a student, an athlete, and still be involved in other campus activities at a DII or DIII program.
  2. While being a DI student-athlete, you may not be able to pursue the academic major you wish and graduate in four years.
  3. Most importantly, while some elite athletes do receive full athletic offers at the DI level, a much larger number of student-athletes only receive partial scholarships in some sports (beyond football and basketball). You may find better overall financial packages at a smaller school when you combine academic and athletic scholarships.

A few current college coaches’ thoughts about researching beyond NCAA DI:


“Having coached in both NCAA DI and DII, I think it is important to look beyond the recognizable name of a school and conference. Division II and III schools offer a unique balance enabling student-athletes to have a well-rounded college experience.

They get the best of both worlds: 1) They are student-athletes, 2) but they are allotted time to be students while still enjoying college activities and organizations outside of their sport. Academics should also play a strategic role in choosing a school and many DII and III schools are located at phenomenal academic institutions!”

Jaye Loyd
Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach
UC San Diego


“The division matters much less than your priorities. Your first priority should be in seeing if a strong academic program is available. And then your second priority should be if you have an opportunity to compete, and not just be on the roster.”

Dr. Sue Nyhus
Head Women’s Golf Coach
Utah Valley University


“Athletes should look beyond just NCAA DI. Many DI programs won’t allow student-athletes to choose a very demanding of major. I have 6 girls who are nursing majors. I even have one who transferred from a DI to play here for us because she figured out she can’t balance the demanding curriculum level and DI athletics.”

“DII programs also allow professors to really get to know the student-athlete. Professors know their names and are not afraid call me if there is an academic issue. The professors are hands-on. You just don’t get that at the bigger universities! DII really is very close-knit community experience.”

Daven Bond
Head Women’s Softball Coach
Regis University (Colorado)


“An athlete should consider NCAA Division III as it is an environment that provides balance for the student-athlete. They will enjoy college for many reasons: school, their sport, social life and many other things. Division III athletics provides a good template for balancing multiple roles in life which all of us as adults need to do!”

Erin Coppernoll
Head Women’s Soccer Coach
UW Oshkosh


Photo credits: UC San Diego, Utah Valley University, Regis University, & UW Oshkosh

Come back next week for Part 2 of “I Am Only Going to Play NCAA DI! Why On Earth Would I Even Look at D2 or 3?”: 3 Reasons Student-Athletes Should Look Beyond DI 

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Coach Renee Lopez

Looking for a Full Ride? by: Coach Renee Lopez

As a 17 year coaching veteran, Renee Lopez is a recruiting expert for high school student athletes. She uses her NCAA Division I, II, and NAIA Head Coaching experience to help families navigate the recruiting process to be identified by college coaches and help them find the right “fit” for playing at the next level.

She presents recruiting seminars across the country, has recently been featured on ESPN Radio, and is the author of the upcoming book, “Looking For A FULL RIDE?: An Insider’s Recruiting Guide” where she has interviewed 35 college recruiters across all sports and college levels.

She also does private consulting for student-athletes and their families to help in understanding the often daunting process of recruiting. (See one family’s testimonial.) If you are looking for help in the college recruiting process, please email Coach Renee Lopez at info@lookingforafullride.com.

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