Choosing a college is not an easy decision, we all know this. Choosing a college when you are an athlete? Well, that’s an even tougher decision. You may be conflicted on a wide range of factors such as; the location, the coaching, the facilities, the weather, the team culture and so much more. All these are very important questions young athletes in their penultimate year of high school surely consider, and some might just be curious about the most basic of all questions “Do Colleges play my sport of choice competitively?”. Let us know more detail about ‘Do Colleges Have Baseball Teams?’.
Do Colleges Have Baseball Teams?
If you’re a baseball player and you’ve ever found yourself asking “Do colleges have baseball teams?” be rest assured that you’re not the only one. So sit right back while we dive right into it in this article.
Contrary to popular belief, colleges actually have baseball teams. Because moving directly from high school to the professional minor leagues is extremely popular in baseball, people tend to forget that there are colleges with baseball teams that partake in highly competitive tournaments on an annual basis. As a matter of fact, there are nearly 1700 college baseball teams in America, not including junior colleges(I.e., two-year institutions) and community colleges.
As with almost all the other college sports in the US, baseball is played under the guidance of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). Baseball colleges are categorized across five different division levels; NCAA Division 1, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA, and junior college baseball respectively. Each of these various divisions offers its own unique experiences and disparity in terms of the level of competitiveness. It might seem like a lot to figure out, trust me we know. But don’t fret we’re going to dive into it in detail; the various division levels, the varying degree of competitiveness, and the various competitions college baseball teams participate in.
Various Division Levels of College Baseball
Division 1 Baseball Colleges:
Division 1 or D1 as it is popularly called is the highest level of college baseball. Division 1 is essential for colleges and universities with large population sizes and offers athletic scholarships. Some key characteristics of the NCAA Division 1 team:
Division 1 schools have a large amount of money for their athletic budget. This means they tend to spend more on facilities and grounds. This budget also allows them to offer the most athletic scholarships.
Division 1 colleges have large campuses and a large student population. Ivy league colleges are part of Division 1, although they do not offer athletic scholarships.
Division 1 baseball colleges compete in the NCAA Division 1 baseball championship from May to June annually. The competition which is participated in by 64 teams is the largest and most competitive competition in college baseball, often being followed by major sports journalists and news outlets boasting of a record 14,385 attendance in 2021.
Examples of some Division 1 college baseball teams include The Texas Longhorns, The Miami Hurricanes, The Arizona Wildcats, The USC Trojans, etc.
Division 2 Baseball Colleges:
In Division 2 colleges generally have smaller budgets and mostly participate in regional tournaments compared to Division 1 which competes nationally. Here are some characteristics of Division 2 teams in more detail:
Division 2 schools also tend to have a smaller population size compared to Division 1 schools. According to the NCAA, about 35% of Division 2 colleges have 2,500-7,500 students.
Division 2 schools have a stronger focus on academics than Division 1, which makes it easier for athletes to balance sports and academic activities.
Some examples of Division 2 colleges include the University of California – San Diego, Bentley University, Grand Valley University, Rollins College, etc.
Division 3 Baseball Colleges:
Division 3 is by far the NCAA largest division, but the baseball programs do not meet up to the standard of Divisions 1 and 2. The colleges in this division have the least athletic budget and most times do not offer athletic scholarships.
Most Division 3 colleges are smaller, private liberal arts colleges and are usually located in the Northwest and Midwest. These colleges do not offer academic scholarships, although athletes with good academic records can apply for academic and merit-based scholarships/financial aid.
Division 3 colleges place more emphasis on academic performances than athletic performances; with most athletes in the division graduating from college before transitioning into professional baseball.
The level of competition in this division is significantly lower than that of divisions 1 and 2, with the season usually starting earlier than in the other divisions.
Examples of Division 3 colleges include John Hopkins University, Clark University, Tufts University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT), etc.
NAIA Baseball Teams:
NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), colleges in this division are usually small in population size and less popular than colleges in the NCAA divisions.
Regarding the level of competition, NAIA baseball programs are similar to high-level Division 2 tournaments, offering more opportunities to athletes and consistent playing time.
The NAIA recruitment process is less regulated than that of NCAA divisions. They do not have restrictions on when athletes can start to talk to coaches and they have no regulations on the tryout schedules.
The population sizes of most of the colleges are small in number giving for a more relaxed schooling environment.
Examples of some NAIA baseball colleges include Loyola University New Orleans, College of the Ozarks, Asbury University, Taylor University, etc.
Junior college Baseball Teams:
Junior colleges are basically two-year institutions. One of the major advantages of junior college baseball is the amount of opportunity.
Because junior colleges take only two years for completion, they provide more chances for student-athletes to be selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Where student-athletes at four-year colleges must wait after their junior year before being considered eligible.
Just like NCAA, junior college schools are also divided into three divisions. Division 1 similarly offers athletic scholarships, Division 2 offers mostly financial aid, and Division 3 does not offer any sort of athletic scholarship.
The cost of attending a junior college is relatively lower than that of attending other baseball colleges.
Examples of some junior college baseball schools include Wabash Valley, Gordon State, Southern Nevada, Northwest Florida State, etc.
So that’s it, a summary of the various colleges that have baseball teams and some examples. Depending on your criteria or priorities there are some really good schools that you can look into. Each different class of school has its pros and cons; ranging from cost, level of competition, location, facilities, scholarships, etc. I hope this article has given you an informed guide into the world of college baseball.
Frequently Asked Question’s
Q: How many division 2 baseball teams are there?
A: There are currently 274 NCAA Division 2 college baseball teams.
Q: How many division 3 baseball teams are there?
A: There are 389 division 3 college baseball programs across the United States.
Q: What tournament do division 1 teams compete in?
A: Division 1 teams compete in the NCAA Division 1 Baseball Championship.
Q: Are Ivy League Schools in Division 1?
A: Ivy League schools are Division 1, but they do not offer athletic scholarships.