Davidson is unique in its position as one of the smallest schools participating in NCAA Division I sports—and the whole college takes pride in its ‘Davidson vs. Goliath’ role. Since Davidson basketball’s impressive Elite 8 showing in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, school spirit has soared, and Belk Arena is frequently full to capacity. If students aren’t among the 25 percent playing a varsity sport, chances are they’re participating in club or intramural teams, or out in the stands rooting everyone else on. Most freshmen halls play “Flickerball,” Davidson’s own version of touch football; it not only fosters some healthy competition and fulfills the Phys Ed team sport requirement, but also substantially increases hall bonding. Still, students note that academics come first here, and that they’re frequently impressed with their friends’ abilities to succeed both in the classroom and on the field.
The quintessential Davidson student is the student-athlete, and all athletes here are held very much to the same academic standards as everyone else. It is not infrequent to see a starter on the men’s basketball team head straight to the library after a big win. In an October 2002 Sports Illustrated report, Davidson tied Rice University for the highest overall graduation rate for NCAA Division I athletes, coming in at a whopping 91 percent. If you’re seeking a highly-selective liberal arts college and the highest level of athletic competition around, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than Davidson.