The University Soccer Championship is, as for all university sports in the US, organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NCAA hosted the first-ever Men’s Division 1 soccer championship in 1959 with only 8 teams. Today, 1000 teams are divided into different conferences throughout the US and only 48 teams compete in the final phase of Division 1.
Sport into the heart of education system
Universities offer sports scholarships to soccer players around the world, and allow the combination of high-level sport with higher education. American universities offer the conditions and the optimal environment to combine sports and studies. Unlike France and most countries around the world, the United States integrates sport and athlete training into the heart of their education system by giving it a lot of space.
Until the year 2016 and the implementation of the European model at some MLS franchises, these universities were the only structures that acted as training centers (academies) for the elite of the US soccer with the considerable advantage of offering a diploma of international renown.
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NCAA and NAIA bring a lot of money back to universities, including television broadcasts, which attest to the importance of university sport in the United States. In addition to these media revenues, teams can count on considerable ticketing revenue. These significant financial resources are invested in high quality infrastructure comparable to the facilities of European professional clubs.
The human resources of university technical staffs are also important. Each team has at least a coach, assistant coaches, a physiotherapist or sports doctor, a physical trainer and a mental trainer. All these resources that help dream many ambitious footballers from around the world.