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Why Is There No D3 Football In The West?

The east coast is flooded with Division 3 football programs.

Why is there no Division 3 football program in the west? Two reasons there are no teams in the west is because of the population and they have significantly more NAIA, Division 2 & Division 1 football programs which fill up the west coast population.

Here is a map of Division III football programs across the united states.


Does anything jump out at you? How about the noticeable void of division three football programs from the midwest to the west coast? If you take this at face value, you could draw the conclusion that the football talent is better the further you get from the north-east part of the country.

This eliminates the need for any division 3 football programs right? The distribution of these programs is due to the fact that the north-east has an abundance of less talented players that need a lower division to play in, right?

Wrong. While the reasoning behind it has nothing to do with talent, the sad truth is that division 3 football will not be expanding and bringing any athletic or academic opportunities to the western half of the country any time soon.

Any program exploring the possibility of creating a division 3 team would run into a financially crippling fact, transporting their teams to the away games would drain the athletic departments budget.

Any newly formed program out west would likely have to travel further for all of its away games due to the scarcity of division 3 programs in the area, driving up the cost of transporting the athletes to the competition, putting them up in hotels, and feeding them.

This would lead to sub-par coaching, poor athletic facilities, and restrictions to player equipment in either quality or quantity.

With the initial transport obstacle dealing a nearly crucial blow, the other obstacles like filling a roster and keeping NCAA compliant have surely kept division 3 schools off the western landscape.

You are about to see three maps of the United States. The first one is the same one from the beginning of the article showing division 3 football programs.

The second one is a map showing the population density in the United States, and the third map shows the median household income by state.

Maps 1 and 2 are uncannily similar. This shows that division 3 programs are a byproduct of population. This makes sense, since there is a greater population density, there will also be a greater number of athletes.

The third map, showing household median income, is the nail in the coffin for division 3 football expanding west. This map shows that the north-east part of the country has the highest density of states with median incomes above $60,000 each year.

Ok, enough fancy talk, here’s the point. Division 3 football availability is driven by two factors, population and money. Of all the schools with division 3 programs, 81% are private.

With private schools having notoriously high tuitions, the states that have higher median household incomes can more easily afford to send their athlete to a private school. Until population and income spread more evenly across the country, division 3 football will remain in its current region.

the football handbook

I hate to end an article on a sad note, but there was one statistic that stood out to me throughout this article. This is the last map, I promise. This one shows all the colleges in the United States.

The spread of colleges across the country matches the population density of the country almost perfectly. However there are a number of public colleges, shown with the blue dots, in areas that have no football available at the division 3 or even division 2 level.

When it comes to one of the country’s favorite sports, its a shame to think that such a large part of the U.S. has almost no access to four-year football beyond the high school level.

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