Men's Division I is a set of schools and conferences that sponsor men's hockey and abide by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's rules and regulations for Division I ice hockey. There are currently six conferences that sponsor Division I hockey:

These six conferences represent all but one of the 60 teams that compete at the Division I level in men's hockey. The Arizona State Sun Devils are Division I Independents. Division I represents the highest possible level of investment in hockey, and also the highest level of competition. If a school is a Division I institution, they must compete at the Division I level in all sports. However, several Division II and Division III schools choose to "play up" to Division I hockey, with the mechanics differing between D-II and D-III.

All NCAA members below D-I are allowed to "play up" in any sport that does not have a national championship for the school's own division. Since the NCAA abolished the Division II men's hockey championship after its 1998 edition, D-II schools have been allowed to compete as D-I hockey members under D-I rules. The Northeast-10 Conference, a D-II all-sports league, chose to continue playing under D-II rules; currently, six of its eight men's hockey schools play under D-II regulations, while the other two play in D-I as part of Atlantic Hockey. All other D-II men's hockey schools compete in D-I.

Since Division III has a men's championship, only D-III members covered by an NCAA grandfather clause are allowed to continue playing as D-I schools. A separate grandfather clause allows a subset of these schools to award hockey scholarships, a practice otherwise prohibited in D-III.

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