Photo by Julia Kelley

In NCAA Division III, student-athletes cannot be “on scholarship," which means they cannot be paid by their school in return for their participation in a sport. For Division III schools, it becomes a competition for more than the best athletes: the best students.

At Otterbein University, many of those incoming students come in with the intent to play a sport. According to Kathy Mazza, the recruiting coordinator at Otterbein, 182 true freshmen are currently playing a sport. That 182 accounts for almost 30% of the freshman class.

Mazza said approximately 168 sophomores came in with the intention of playing a sport. This tallied to 20.8% of the sophomore class that, according to Otterbein Institutional Data Analyst Matthew Watson, was 805 students.

For Division III athletes, the decision to play a sport is a tough one. They are not on scholarship to play a sport, but are still expected to balance academics and athletics. 


College coaches expect players to show up early to practice, stay late after practice is over for extra reps. Coaches also ask that athletes watch film, attend team and individual meetings, get to an athletic trainer for any bumps or bruises, and then asks them to maintain academic eligibility on top of that.

A result of this difficult balance is players dropping their sport. Mazza said 38 class of 2021 student-athletes, 22% of the 168, no longer play the sport they participated in their freshman year. 

For some athletes, the demand of playing just was not worth the effort. Anthony Carroll, a senior sport management major and former football player, said, “It just wasn’t worth my time and effort. Simple."


Senior psychology major Layne Repp said that he never fully recovered mentally from an injury sustained as an athlete and needed a job. “For me, I was coming out of summer and I had a job, and I didn’t want to give that up. I need the money, and I needed the time for that money."

Sean Lipscomb, a junior zoo & conservation science major, said being an athlete took up too much of his time. “I just didn’t want to play anymore and I was losing my time that I could’ve been using for something else."