"Division III athletics features student-athletes who receive no financial aid related to their athletic ability and athletic departments are staffed and funded like any other department in the university. Division III athletics departments place special importance on the impact of athletics on the participants rather than on the spectators. The student-athlete's experience is of paramount concern."
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
While it is well known that NCAA Division III student-athletes are not able to earn athletic scholarships, there are still many misunderstandings about what Division III institutions and their athletic programs are and are not allowed to do. For instance, student-athletes at Division III insitutions can and do receive financial aid and scholarships based upon financial need, academic merit, and leadership and service.
Eligibilty for participation of intercollegiate athletic competition at the varsity level at Saint Mary's College is goverened jointly by the rules and regulations established by the NCAA, the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA), and the College.
In order to be eligible, a student-athlete must maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by Saint Mary's while carrying at least 12 credit hours per semester to hold "full-time student" status.
The NCAA has put into place several rules and policies to keep the needs and experience of the student-athlete at the forefront of Division III athletics. The recruitment of prospective student-athletes by Division III institutions is one area of emphasis focused on by the NCAA. By definition, a prospective student-athlete is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade.
Some of the major rules about recruiting prospective student-athletes at Division III institutions include:
- NCAA Division III does not require Clearinghouse registration.
- Prospective student-athletes may receive printed materials at any time from NCAA Division III coaches.
- There is no limit on the number or the timing of phone calls, e-mails, and text messages at the NCAA Division III level. The prospective student-athlete may also contact the coach by phone call, e-mail, and text message. Coaches are also allowed to private message prospective student-athletes on Facebook. Please note that a coach cannot post on a wall, like or comment on a photo, send or accept a friend request, or group message on Facebook. Prospective student-athletes can follow a coach on Twitter, but coaches cannot follow a prospective student-athlete.
- NCAA Division III college coaches may begin to have contact with the prospective student-athlete and their parents/legal guardians off the college's campus after the prospective student-athlete's sophomore year.
- There is no National Letter of Intent program for NCAA Division III.
NCAA Division III regulations prevent student-athletes from receiving renewable outside scholarships which were awarded based on athletic participation, ability or leadership in any sport which is also an NCAA sport (e.g., basketball, volleyball, etc.). It is the student-athlete’s responsibility to check with the Financial Aid Office when they expect to receive funding from an outside source to ensure the terms of the scholarship will not interfere with the student’s ability to participate in varsity athletics.