The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States. Its headquarters is in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In August 1973, the current three-division setup of Division I, Division II, and Division III was adopted by the NCAA membership in a special convention. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III. Division I football was further divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978. Subsequently the term "Division I-AAA" was briefly added to delineate Division I schools which do not field a football program at all, but that term is no longer officially used by the NCAA. In 2006, Divisions I-A and I-AA were respectively renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The NCAA, at first named the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States (IAAUS), was established on March 31, 1906, to set rules for amateur athletic sports in the United States. When then-president Theodore Roosevelt's own son, Ted, broke his nose playing rugby at Harvard, Roosevelt became aware of the growing number of serious injuries and deaths occurring in collegiate rugby football. He brought the presidents of five major institutions, Army (West Point), Navy (Annapolis), Harvard, Princeton, and Yale to several meetings at the White House in October 1905 to discuss steps to make college athletics safer. The IAAUS was created as an outcome of those meetings and became the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1910.
Until the 1980s, the association did not offer women's athletics. Instead an organization named the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) governed women's collegiate sports in the United States. By 1982, however, all divisions of the NCAA offered national championship events for women's athletics and most members of the AIAW joined the NCAA.
In 2009, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada became the NCAA's first non-US member institution.
The NCAA's legislative structure is broken down into cabinets and committees, consisting of various representatives of its member schools. These may be broken down further into sub-committees. Legislation is then passed on to the Management Council, which oversees all the cabinets and committees, and also includes representatives from the schools, such as athletic directors and faculty advisors. Management Council legislation goes on to the Board of Directors, which consists of school presidents, for final approval.
The NCAA staff itself provides support, acting as guides, liaison, research and public and media relations. Former Indiana University president Myles Brand was the most recent head of the NCAA. In the wake of his death, executives with the organization will oversee day-to-day operations until the Executive Committee names Brand's successor.
Sports sanctioned by the NCAA include basketball, baseball (men), softball (women), football (men), cross country, field hockey (women), bowling (women), golf, fencing (coeducational), lacrosse, soccer, gymnastics, rowing (women only), volleyball, ice hockey, water polo, rifle (coeducational), tennis, skiing (coeducational), track and field, swimming and diving, and wrestling (men).