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NCAA Fencing Explained

(Click for an explanation of Team SPI: Team SPI.)

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Fencing combines the three divisions: Division I, Division II, and Division III into a combined National Collegiate Sport. There are divisional differences for recruiting, scholarships, and various other rules.

NCAA Fencing is composed of:

  • 44 women’s teams, 35 men’s teams.
    • On our team Statistics page, easy viewing and sorting by men/women, division, and region is available.
    • For a geographic view, please see this map developed by our colleagues at USA Fencing. 
    • Schools which have men's and women's teams usually train and travel as a combined team.
  • On average, over the past 5 years there are:
    • Over 1300 student-athletes; ~ 700 female, ~ 630 male.

Team Regular Season

  • The NCAA season typically starts in the Fall with teams starting to train around September.
  • There are a variety of types of competitions in which teams or individuals participate:
    • USA Fencing events. 
    • Individual Collegiate Events – these are effectively pre-season/exhibition for the teams to get themselves ready for regular season competition. These events do not count towards school individual/team records.
NCAA Regular Season team matches 
  • Typically called dual meets or invitationals, these events will feature anywhere from 2 teams during a single day match to ~15 teams competing against each other over the course of a weekend.
  • The number of events that a school attends varies from team to team, with a maximum number of dates determined by NCAA legislation.
  • Conference Championship Events – Many teams are members of a conference which allows them to compete in a conference championship. A few well known conferences are: ACC, Ivy League, CCFC, Mountain Pacific Sport Federation, etc. Some conference events are counted as part of the season and others are not. 

Regionals and the National Championship.

* Past and upcoming regionals and nationals results can be viewed here.

    • The NCAA breaks the postseason into two parts:
      • Regionals – is the qualification event to the NCAA Fencing Championship.
        • Held in four regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic/South, Midwest, and West.
        • Schools qualify up to 12 fencers per gender, per school, for their regional competition based on their results during the season.
      • National Championship:
        • Athletes qualify from each region based on their finish at the regional qualifier and their regular season performance.
        • Is a four days event during the third week of March.
        • The Team Champion is determined based on total bouts won by members of combined men's and women's teams. 

 Team SPI

  • Team SPI is displayed on the USFCA Team Statistics page. It is a team evaluation metric. (It is not used for qualification for the post season). Here is an explanation of how it operates.

    Background:

    Comparing collegiate individuals and teams is uniquely challenging in the sport of fencing. This is because NCAA Fencing includes all three NCAA Divisions, and due to varying geography and funding, very different schedules are made which vary in terms of number and strength of competition. 

    History:

    The USFCA was instrumental in developing and getting NCAA approval of a new individual formula to compare fencers called SPI (Season Performance Index). Beginning in 2022, the USFCA modified the SPI formula for team comparisons. 

    Structure:

    The team formula uses the team match win-loss results that are divided over three strength categories. The points of each category are weighted with higher points for higher strength. Points are then awarded based on win % in each category. This is the basic structure, though the complete formula contains additional constants and modifiers. 

    Conclusion:

    As more results come in over the season, Team SPI will be increasingly accurate for assessing team performance. It is not meant to be predictive. It is a past-result-based metric for people to follow and compare their favorite teams.