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Student athletes have multiple options to compete on the NCAA level

Many schools on the DII and DIII level offer competitive financial aid packages and partial scholarships, in addition to walk-on spots.

YORK, Pa. — The opportunity to represent a university athletically is a privilege, especially for the many student athletes who go on to play Division II and III sports.

It's mostly about finding diamonds in the rough. Millersville head football coach J.C. Morgan is one of the many coaches who takes pride in developing players.

"Young men will get overlooked by DI schools for whatever reason," said Morgan. "It might be academic-based, it might be height or weight requirement; it might just be the fact that some men haven’t developed, but some young men take some years to develop into their bodies, and if they can do it at our place that’s even better." 

Those players come in all different ways, from partial scholarship players to walk-ons. No stone is unturned on the recruiting trail.

"It helps to find players that can come in and compete for a roster spot and then ultimately compete for playing time," said Morgan. "Every player that comes in our program isn't going to be a scholarship student athlete, and it's great that you can go out and find players that you can develop and that is a big part of our program."

From facilities, level of competition and diverse majors, Division II and III schools offer lots to student athletes. York College is one of the most competitive DIII schools and has a lot of success recruiting locally.

"We feel really fortunate with the facilities that we have," said York College head soccer coach Evan Scheffey. "To get our student athletes to want to come here and work hard and get to play on some awesome facilities is big."

"You can come to a Division II program, you can play at a very high level, and you can still get a quality education," said Morgan "I think DII combines the best of high school athletics with quality academics, and I think that combination makes it great for a student athlete going through their young adult years."

Division II scholarship availability varies depending on the sport. 

For example, the NCAA allows 36 full football scholarships. Rarely does an athlete get a full ride; instead, most of the money goes to multiple players as partial scholarships.

"Many kids can get partial scholarships, academic money, financial aid and grants, and kids can get a package," said recruiting coordinator Rick Wire. "They can put together a package where they aren't paying for their education and leave with little or no debt."

While scholarship money can be earned and stars are born, many play for the love of the game.

"At the Division II and Division III level, they play because they love the game," said Morgan. "They have a passion for competing, to be apart of something bigger then yourself; they aren't getting NILs or scholarships or anything, but the fact they can be apart of a great college experience and build lifelong relationships I think it's pretty special."

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