The National Collegiate Athletic AssociationThe Common Ground for College Athletics by DAVID HOUSEL Auburn University NCAA Public Relations and Promotion Committee Nearly 1.000 colleges and universities across the United States combine to form the NCAA. Working together, these institutions of higher learning provide America's young athletes with an opportunity to "be as good as they can be." in the classroom and in the athletic arena. The NCAA is perhaps best known for its series of national championships and its enforcement program, but these are only two of the areas that concern the membership of the "Voice of College Athletics." Today's college athlete is a student first and an athlete second. Working together through their common association of NCAA membership, our nation's colleges and universities work to insure the academic integrity of all its programs. As with any organization made up of member institutions, the requirements in any given area are continually changing in response to the membership and its concerns, but the goals are the same - a sound mind, a sound body, a spirit that is unafraid and clean competition that develop these qualities. Just as integrity is a key in the academic program, it is a key in competition between member institutions. The NCAA, composed of member institutions, is charged with enforcing the rules and regulations the member institutions impose on themselves. Member institutions seek to create an atmosphere in which all institutions have an equal chance to recruit America's outstanding student-athletes. It is then up to the member institutions to help the individual student-athletes "be as good as they can be," both in the classroom and in the arena of competition. The NCAA administers 75 championships in three divisions in 21 sports for its member institutions. More than 15.000 men and women student-athletes annually compete in these events for national titles. The National Collegiate Championships series began with a tennis tournament in 1883 and has been conducted under NCAA auspices since 1921. when the National Collegiate Track and Field Championships were initiated. National College Division Championships were held from 1957 to 1973. with 10 sports included. Reorganization of the NCAA membership structure in 1973 led to the establishment of division championships in each of the Association's three new membership classifications. A football championship for the Division 1-AA subdivision was added in 1978, and women's championships became a part of the NCAA program in 1981-82. There currently are nine National Collegiate Championships for which all divisions are eligible three for men, four for women and two men's and women's events. There are 24 National Collegiate Division I Championships (14 men, 10 women). 20 National Collegiate Division II Championships (11 men, nine women) and 22 National Collegiate Division III Championships (13 men, nine women). The most recent additions are men's indoor track and women's indoor track in Division II. plus men's ice hockey, men's indoor track and women's indoor track in Division III. Championships for men are offered in one or more divisions in baseball, basketball, cross country, fencing, football (except in Division I-A), golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track, volleyball, water polo and wrestling.