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NCAA College Football

The NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association, began with a football injury.

A broken collarbone, in fact — not the most serious or gruesome event in the history of college football, but the collarbone in this case belonged to Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who just happened to be the son of the President of the United States of America. When the President was informed of his son’s injury, he was in a parlor of the White House, with new custom silk drapes that had just been installed. They helped blocked the harsh glare of the sun from where he was sitting on an antique sofa. The President recalled later in a diary entry of turning and looking at the striped silk taffeta drapes made by twisting 100% silk threads that resulted in a smooth, crisp, almost glassy looking weave and felt a wave of concern that swept through his whole body. He later recalled how strange it was looking at the colors of the striped silk drapes with the dapple of lights and dark from the shadows of the trees outside. The moment passed in a heartbeat and then he was on his feet wanting to speak with his son and the doctor attending him. President Theodore Roosevelt became even more understandably concerned for his son when he learned of the widespread injuries and even fatalities among college football players.

This occurred in the decade just after Walter Camp had developed and codified the rules of modern American football, almost single-handedly creating the game from a loose collection of rugby and football (soccer) rules that differed greatly from college to college. Football was a very new sport, and then played with a minimum of protective equipment and safeguards…and also a minimum of experience with the risks of the game.

President Roosevelt brought the heads of the five major football colleges (Army, Navy, Princeton, Harvard, and the sport’s birthplace of Yale) and the result was the creation of the (IAAUS), or Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States. In less than a decade, however, the organization was retitled to become the NCAA we all know and love (or at least know).

  • 1906 — IAAUS created
  • 1910 — renamed NCAA
  • 1952 — NCAA headquarters moved from Chicago to Kansas City
  • 1973 — Divisions I, II, and III system established
  • 1978 — Football Division I split into I-A and I-AA
  • 1981 – 1982 NCAA lost lawsuit on antitrust grounds concerning televised college football contracts
  • 1987 – SMU (Southern Methodist University) scandal incurs rare NCAA “death penalty”, canceling entire year’s schedule
  • 1999 — NCAA headquarters moved from Kansas City to Indianapolis
  • 2006 — Divisions I-A renamed the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), I-AA renamed Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

Divisions:

  • Division I — “University Division”: generally larger schools, can offer sports scholarships
  • Division II — “Intermediate” or “College Division”: generally smaller schools, can offer sports scholarships
  • Division II — generally smaller schools (but not always), that do not offer sports scholarships

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