When you look at a map of NCAA Division III schools, Colorado College is in the middle of nowhere, far away from any other schools in the division.
With the majority of DIII schools on the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast, Colorado College is the only Division III School in the Rocky Mountain time zone. The location makes it difficult for CC to find a stable home in a conference since competitors are so far away. It also increases travel time for many sports, and yet moving to Division II does not seem like the best solution.
Director of Athletics, Ken Ralph, said that there are no current conversations on campus regarding moving up to Division II, but that it has been a topic discussed in the past.
“In fact, the Athletics Board has removed the conversation from their discussions because of the stabilization of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference [SCAC],” he said.
It is always a possibility that the athletics department has considered over the years and will most likely consider again in the future.
Greg Capell, the Senior Associate Director of Athletics, said, “Three years ago, there was also a lot of talk about changing when the conference was so unstable. But now that SCAC is very stable, it’s really not something we are considering. That said, there is always a chance that something will happen where we would reconsider the option of changing.”
But for right now, CC will stay in its isolated location within the Division III world.
“I transferred from a DI school where I played lacrosse, and the difference in mentality when students are playing for a scholarship and when students are playing for a love of their sport is incredible,” senior Ellie Cole said.
Capell said, “Colorado College, philosophically, looks more like a Division III school than DI or DII. This was another one of the drivers of this decision.”
Many other coaches and athletes feel similarly. Swimming and diving head coach Anne Goodman James has coached at each division, and decided to work at CC because it was a Division III school.
“I like the Division III philosophy of a little bit more academic and athletic balance. I like being out of the athletic scholarship business,” Goodman James said. “[It] changes the dynamic of your team. The other thing is I think it can be the reason why someone continues to be on a team as opposed to doing it because they want to. [D III] creates a great atmosphere.”
The cons of a switch to DII outweigh the benefits right now. Because of the stabilization of the SCAC, travelling is less of an issue than it was in the past. Although there are many more Division II colleges in the Rocky Mountain time zone, the cost of scholarships that CC would have to allot is much higher.
A major difference between the divisions is that Division III does not offer athletic scholarships to student athletes. In Division II, the NCAA allots each school a certain number of scholarships.
Although many CC teams already compete against the DII teams in the area and fare pretty well against, Capell believes that CC would have to recruit and offer scholarships if the college were to move to DII.
“In order to be competitive and allow our athletes to be successful [in Division II], we felt that it was important to at least offer some athletic scholarships. We didn’t want to put our teams in a position where they constantly trying to fight uphill,” Capell said.
He also highlighted the fact that a full scholarship to CC would be a lot more expensive then a full ride to other schools in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference—in some cases even double the cost.
An example of a DII university within Colorado is Adams State University in Alamosa. The annual cost for an out-of-state student including room & board, books and supplies, and estimated personal expenses is around $26,813 without any financial aid (Merit or Need Based) or scholarships. For an in-state student, the annual total cost would be about $15,557.
CC’s tuition, on the hand, is $41,332, not including room and board, books and supplies, nor personal andtravel expenses. The total is about $54,200 for non-Colorado residents and $53,650 for Colorado residents.
Not only is the cost of tuition double the price at CC, but Adams State acceptance rate is around 64 percent, while CC’s is around 26 percent.
“A school that is not as good academically will have a much bigger pool of athletes to choose from, while for us, athletes not only have to be talented but also have to be able to get into CC,” Goodman James said.
Horst Richardson, CC Men’s Soccer Head Coach, agrees that it is important to have similar schools within a conference.
“The RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) schools are not our kind of schools…there has been talk about forming a conference of all the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, such as Carleton, St. Olaf, Grinnell, Knox, etc. That’d be great for us, but all of those schools are comfortably situated in their conferences. We are always the odd man out because of our location,” he said.
For the time being, CC will stay at the Division III level. We are a small liberal arts school and are able to compete with other small liberal arts schools even. Although travel—the cost of it and the missed class time for students—has been an issue over the years, CC does not see enough benefits of moving to DII in order to seriously consider it.