Women's Division I is a set of schools and conferences that sponsor women's hockey and abide by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's rules and regulations for Division I ice hockey. Three of the six conferences that sponsor Division I men's hockey have women's divisions:
Two other conferences are women-only:
These five conferences represent all 41 teams that compete at the Division I level in women's hockey. 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, schools are allowed to "play up" in any sport that does not have a championship for the school's own division. Because the NCAA has never sponsored a D-II championship in women's hockey, D-II members are allowed to play as de facto D-I members in that sport. Additionally, a grandfather clause allows a few Division III schools that had historically fielded top-level hockey programs to continue to play Division I hockey despite the existence of D-III men's and women's championships. A separate grandfather clause allows an even smaller number of these D-III schools to award athletic scholarships in ice hockey, a practice otherwise outlawed for D-III members.
(more to be added, scholarship #s, etc.)
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