There are 346 NCAA Division 1 schools, what does it mean to be a Division 1 school?
Every Division 1 school has to sponsor at least 7 sports for men and 7 seven sports for women (or 6 men and 8 women). At least 2 of the sports for both men and women need to be team sports. Each sports season–Fall, Winter and Spring–needs to be represented by both men’s and women’s sports.
There are participation criteria per sport and scheduling requirements. Except for football and basketball, 100% of scheduled competition has to be against other Division I schools when scheduling the NCAA mandated number of matches in a season.
After the mandated number of games/meets/tournaments have been scheduled, 50% of the overage competitions can be against non-Division I schools. For men’s and women’s basketball all but two games have to be played against Division I teams and a third of all men’s basketball games must be played at home.
Football is broken up between 2 subdivisions: Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formally known as Division 1-A or Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formally known as Division 1-AA. FBS teams are normally your higher ranked, nationally recognized teams. They have to meet a game attendance minimum of 15,000 attendance at a home game; this has to be met at least once in a two year rolling period. FBS schools do not have an attendance criterion that has to be met.
Division 1 schools must also meet the minimum and cannot exceed the maximum amount of financial aid (athletic scholarships) mandated by the NCAA for each sport.