Starting with the fall of 2017, Pfeiffer University will be competing in the NCAA Division III as a member of the USA South Conference. The university has been moving towards operating as a Division III entity since announcing the move in November of 2015, but will begin official DIII competition in the fall. This spring, the NCAA officially accepted Pfeiffer's application to transition into Division III.
Division III's motto is "The Three D's" which consist of Discover, Develop and Dedicate.
The official explanation in the Division III NCAA manual is:
DISCOVER: Division III student-athletes are encouraged to pursue their interests and passions beyond the classroom and field of play . . . to discover themselves.
DEVELOP: Division III institutions provide an environment that encourages student-athletes to develop into well-rounded adults. Small class sizes, the ability to participate in more than one sport and an emphasis on participating in activities outside of the classroom are hallmarks of the Division III experience.
DEDICATE: Division III institutions expect student-athletes to dedicate themselves to achieving their potential. Student-athletes must manage their busy schedules, keep up with class work and face the same challenges as the rest of the student-body.
In the Division III Philosophy Statement, it reads "Colleges and Universities in Division III place the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students' academic programs."
Simply put, Division III allows the student-athlete experience to be dually focused on academics as well as athletics. They put restrictions on the amount of practice hours, limit the team/individual offseason activities and assure that student-athletes are not treated differently than the rest of the student body. Financial aid and college admission are not awarded on the basis of athletic skill but academic prowess.
In athletics, Division III puts a great emphasis on equality and sportsmanship. They provide equal opportunities for males and females and give equivalent emphasis to each gender. Ethnic and gender diversity is supported for all constituents and coaches must exhibit fairness, openness and honesty in their relationships with student-athletes.
Pfeiffer University and its athletic department are excited to embrace this new mission of higher learning and athletic proficiency.