A number of student-athletes attending classes and competing on college sports teams receive full or partial athletic scholarships to take care of their tuition, books, room and board. The most known are those who play at the NCAA Division I level, especially those on football and men’s basketball teams. However, many don’t realize that there is a group of Division I schools that do not offer any athletic scholarships whatsoever.
The Ivy League has not offered any athletic scholarships for more than six decades. In 1945, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale signed the Ivy Group Agreement, which stated in part that those schools would “reaffirm their prohibition of athletic scholarships” as it related to their football teams. That agreement was later extended to all sports teams, starting with the 1955-56 basketball season.
Another interesting fact that many college sports fans might not know is that Ivy League football teams do not take part in the FCS playoffs. The conference has played at this level since 1982 and has never participated in its national playoffs despite having had several FCS top-25 teams over the years. Harvard and Dartmouth were both ranked at the end of the 2015 campaign. One more thing that set the Ivy League apart was its reluctance to hold postseason basketball tournaments, being the last Division I holdout before finally implementing them in 2017.
Impressively, Ivy League schools experience a bit of athletic success in non-major sports and even in major ones from time to time as shown by Cornell’s run to men’s basketball’s Sweet 16 in 2010. Elsewhere, Princeton won the national championship in women’s field hockey in 2012 while Yale’s men’s ice hockey team did the same thing the following year. Several other teams have also made long tournament runs against full-scholarship squads such as was shown by Princeton’s College Cup semifinal appearance in 2004.