NCAA Football Scholarship Rules

By Ted Rollins , last updated October 30, 2011

In addition to overseeing nearly every aspect of college sports, the National Collegiate Athletic Association also regulates the recruitment of athletes, including the doling out of scholarships. While football scholarships may seem fairly simple to the casual fan, in reality there's a complex system that governs football scholarships, especially when you consider how many players are on a college football team. In the following, you'll learn more about NCAA football scholarship rules and regulations.

To start, some college football teams are allowed to offer scholarships while some cannot. Division I and II universities are allowed to give athletes scholarships, while Division III institutions are prohibited from doing so. It's generally the case that larger schools compete in Division I, while smaller schools are in DII or DIII. Exceptions to these rules include the Ivy League schools, which belong to Division I in football but bar athletic scholarships in order not to water down their academic reputations, while service academies like Army and Navy give all of their students scholarships, meaning that following the DI rule wouldn't allow them to field a team.

Division I is normally discussed as a single entity, but it's actual divided into DI-A and DI-AA, with the former containing most of the big name schools. Division DI-A programs are allowed to offer up to 85 football scholarships per year, while Division I-AA schools can give out up to 63 scholarships for the sport. While recruiting athletes, there are a ton of complex guidelines schools must follow. They can only make up to 6 visits in person to any given athlete and cannot spend more than 2 days at a time doing so. Schools can only offer athletes one campus recruiting visit and cannot offer any non-scholarship incentives to entice athletes to join a program.

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