NCAA Division I

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Main logo used by the NCAA in Divisions I, II, and III. NCAA logo.svg
Main logo used by the NCAA in Divisions I, II, and III.

NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

National Collegiate Athletic Association Non-profit organization that regulates many American college athletes and programs

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a non-profit organization which regulates athletes of 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

An athletic scholarship is a form of scholarship to attend a college or university or a private high school awarded to an individual based predominantly on his or her ability to play in a sport. Athletic scholarships are common in the United States, but in many countries they are rare or non-existent.

Contents

This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA, in contrast to the lower level College Division; these terms were replaced with numeric divisions in 1973. The University Division was renamed Division I, while the College Division was split in two; the College Division members that offered scholarships or wanted to compete against those who did became Division II, while those who did not want to offer scholarships became Division III. [1]

NCAA Division II

Division II is an intermediate-level division of competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It offers an alternative to both the larger and better-funded Division I and to the scholarship-free environment offered in Division III.

NCAA Division III division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association

Division III (D-III) is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-III consists of athletic programs at colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.

For the 2014-15 school year, Division I contained 345 of the NCAA's 1,066 member institutions, with 125 in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), 125 in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and 95 non-football schools, with six additional schools in the transition from Division II to Division I. [2] [3] There was a moratorium on any additional movement up to D-I until 2012, after which any school that wants to move to D-I must be accepted for membership by a conference and show the NCAA it has the financial ability to support a D-I program.

D-I schools

Schools must field teams in at least seven sports for men and seven for women or six for men and eight for women, with at least two team sports for each gender. [4] [5] Teams that include both men and women are counted as men's sports for the purposes of sponsorship counting. [4] Division I schools must meet minimum financial aid awards for their athletics program, and there are maximum financial aid awards for each sport that a Division I school cannot exceed. [6] Several other NCAA sanctioned minimums and differences distinguish Division I from Divisions II and III. [5] Members must sponsor at least one sport (not necessarily a team sport though) for each sex in each playing season (fall, winter, spring), again with coeducational teams counted as men's teams for this purpose. [7] There are contest and participant minimums for each sport, as well as scheduling criteria. For sports other than football and basketball, Division I schools must play 100 percent of the minimum number of contests against Division I opponents—anything over the minimum number of games has to be 50 percent Division I. Men's and women's basketball teams have to play all but two games against Division I teams; for men, they must play one-third of all their contests in the home arena. [8]

In addition to the schools that compete fully as D-I institutions, the NCAA allows D-II and D-III schools to classify one men's and one women's sport (other than football or basketball) as a D-I sport, as long as they sponsored those sports before the latest rules change in 2011. [9] Also, Division II schools are eligible to compete for Division I national championships in sports that do not have a Division II national championship, and in those sports may also operate under D-I rules and scholarship limits. [10]

FBS and FCS

For football only, Division I was further subdivided in 1978 into Division I-A (the principal football schools), Division I-AA (the other schools with football teams), and Division I (those schools not sponsoring football). [11] [12] In 2006, Division I-A and I-AA were renamed " Football Bowl Subdivision " (FBS) and "Football Championship Subdivision" (FCS), respectively.

College football collegiate rules version of American/Canadian football, played by student-athletes of American/Canadian colleges and universities

College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the top level of college football in the United States. The FBS is the most competitive subdivision of NCAA Division I, which itself consists of the largest and most competitive schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As of 2018, there are 10 conferences and 130 schools in FBS.

FBS teams are allowed a maximum of 85 players receiving athletically based aid per year, with each player allowed to receive up to a full scholarship. FCS teams have the same 85-player limit as FBS teams, but are allowed to give aid equivalent to only 63 full scholarships. FCS teams are allowed to award partial scholarships, a practice technically allowed but essentially never used at the FBS level. FBS teams also have to meet minimum game attendance requirements (average 15,000 people in actual or paid attendance per home game), while FCS teams do not need to meet minimum attendance requirements.

Another difference is postseason play. Since 1978, FCS teams have played in an NCAA-sanctioned bracket tournament culminating in a title game, the NCAA Division I Football Championship, to determine a national champion. Meanwhile, FBS teams play in bowl games, with various polls ranking teams after the conclusion of these games, yielding a Consensus National Champion annually since 1950. Starting with the 2014 postseason, a four-team College Football Playoff has been contested, replacing a one-game championship format that had started during the 1992 postseason with the Bowl Coalition. Even so, Division I FBS football remains the only NCAA sport in which a yearly champion is not determined by an NCAA-sanctioned championship event.

Finances

Division I athletic programs generated $8.7 billion in revenue in the 2009–2010 academic year. Men's teams provided 55%, women's teams 15%, and 30% was not categorized by sex or sport. Football and men's basketball are usually a university's only profitable sports, [13] and are called "revenue sports". [14] From 2008 to 2012, 205 varsity teams were dropped in NCAA Division I 72 for women and 133 for men, with men's tennis, gymnastics and wrestling hit particularly hard. [15]

In the Football Bowl Subdivision (130 schools in 2017), between 50 and 60 percent of football and men's basketball programs generated positive revenues (above program expenses). [16] However, in the Football Championship Subdivision (124 schools in 2017), only four percent of football and five percent of men's basketball programs generated positive revenues. [17]

In 2012, 2% of athletic budgets were spent on equipment, uniforms and supplies for male athletes at NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school, with the median spending per-school at $742,000. [18]

In 2014, the NCAA and the student athletes debated whether student athletes should be paid. In April, the NCAA approved students-athletes getting free unlimited meals and snacks. The NCAA stated "The adoption of the meals legislation finished a conversation that began in the Awards, Benefits, Expenses and Financial Aid Cabinet. Members have worked to find appropriate ways to ensure student-athletes get the nutrition they need without jeopardizing Pell Grants or other federal aid received by the neediest student-athletes. With their vote, members of the council said they believe loosening NCAA rules on what and when food can be provided from athletics departments is the best way to address the issue." [19]

Conferences

Under NCAA regulations, all Division I conferences defined as "multisport conferences" must meet the following criteria: [20]

FBS Conferences

FBS conferences must meet a more stringent set of requirements for NCAA recognition than other conferences: [21]

ConferenceNicknameFoundedMembersSportsHeadquartersTotal
NCAA
Titles
Men's
NCAA
Titles
Women's
NCAA
Titles
Co-ed
NCAA
Titles
American Athletic Conference The American1979 [lower-alpha 1] 12 [lower-alpha 2] [lower-alpha 3] 22 Providence, Rhode Island 55 37180
Atlantic Coast Conference **ACC195315 [lower-alpha 4] 27 Greensboro, North Carolina 150 87585
Big Ten Conference **Big Ten, B1G189614 [lower-alpha 5] 28 Rosemont, Illinois 317 2297216
Big 12 Conference **Big 12199610 [lower-alpha 6] 21 Irving, Texas 166
Conference USA C-USA1995 [lower-alpha 7] 14 [lower-alpha 8] 19 Irving, Texas
Division I FBS Independents [lower-alpha 9] 6
Mid-American Conference MAC194612 [lower-alpha 10] 23 Cleveland, Ohio
Mountain West Conference MW199911 [lower-alpha 11] [lower-alpha 12] 19 Colorado Springs, Colorado 21 1353
Pac-12 Conference **Pac-121915 [lower-alpha 13] 12 [lower-alpha 14] 24 Walnut Creek, California 501 30917418
Southeastern Conference **SEC19321420 Birmingham, Alabama 223 1181041
Sun Belt Conference Sun Belt197612 [lower-alpha 15] [lower-alpha 16] 18 New Orleans, Louisiana 12 1200

(** "Big Five" or "Power Five" conferences with guaranteed berths in the "access bowls" associated with the College Football Playoff)

Notes
  1. The conference was founded in 1979 as the original Big East Conference. It renamed itself the American Athletic Conference following a 2013 split along football lines. The non-FBS schools of the original conference left to form a new conference that purchased the Big East name, while the FBS schools continued to operate under the old Big East's charter and structure. The American also inherited the old Big East's Bowl Championship Series berth for the 2013 season, the last for the BCS.
  2. 11 of the 12 full members sponsor football, with Wichita State as the only non-football member.
  3. In addition to the full members, six schools have single-sport associate membership:
  4. Notre Dame is a full member except in football, in which it remains independent. It has committed to play five games each season against ACC opponents, and to play each other ACC member at least once every three years.
  5. In addition to the full members, two schools have affiliate membership:
    • Johns Hopkins, otherwise a Division III member, is an affiliate in both men's and women's lacrosse, sports in which the school fields Division I teams.
    • Notre Dame is a men's hockey affiliate.
  6. In addition to the full members, the Big 12 has 11 members that participate in only one sport:
  7. The conference was founded in 1995, with football competition starting in 1996.
  8. In addition to the 14 full members, Conference USA features three schools that play men's soccer in the conference: Kentucky, New Mexico, and South Carolina. New Mexico will drop men's soccer after the 2018 season.
  9. Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  10. In addition to the 12 full members, the Mid-American Conference features nine members which only participate in one sport each, plus one other school that competes in two sports.
  11. Since 2012, Hawaiʻi has been a football-only associate member, with most of its remaining teams in the non-football Big West Conference.
  12. In addition to the 11 full members and football affiliate Hawaiʻi, Colorado College, a Division III school with a Division I men's ice hockey team, plays Division I women's soccer in the MW.
  13. The charter of the Pac-12 dates only to the formation of the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) in 1959. However, the Pac-12 claims the history of the Pacific Coast Conference, which was founded in 1915 and began competition in 1916, as its own. Of the nine members of the PCC at the time of its demise in June 1959, only Idaho never joined the Pac-12. The PCC's berth in the Rose Bowl passed to the AAWU.
  14. The Pac-12 also includes several associate members which compete in one or two sports in the conference. San Diego State plays men's soccer. Cal State Bakersfield and Cal Poly compete in wrestling. Cal Poly also participates in men's swimming and diving, which the NCAA considers a single sport. UC Santa Barbara only competes in men's swimming and diving.
  15. Ten Sun Belt Conference members currently sponsor football, with Little Rock and UT Arlington as members that do not play football at all.
  16. Howard is a men's soccer affiliate. Central Arkansas will join in men's soccer in 2019.

FCS Conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedFootball MembersSportsHeadquarters
Big Sky Conference Big Sky19631216 Ogden, Utah
Big South Conference Big South19831019 Charlotte, North Carolina
Colonial Athletic Association CAA19791021 Richmond, Virginia
Ivy League +1954833 Princeton, New Jersey
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ++MEAC19701316 Norfolk, Virginia
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC1982101 St. Louis, Missouri
Northeast Conference NEC19811022 Somerset, New Jersey
Ohio Valley Conference OVC19481218 Brentwood, Tennessee
Patriot League 19861024 Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Pioneer Football League PFL1991111St. Louis, Missouri
Southern Conference SoCon19211020 Spartanburg, South Carolina
Southland Conference Southland19631117 Frisco, Texas
Southwestern Athletic Conference %SWAC19201018 Birmingham, Alabama

+ The Ivy League abstains from the championship tournament and all postseason play.

++ The MEAC Champion, since 2015, forgoes its automatic bid to allow its champion to participate in the Celebration Bowl. Non-champions are eligible for at-large bids (an example being the 2016 North Carolina A&T Aggies football team).

% The SWAC abstains from the championship tournament to allow for a longer regular season, an in-conference championship game (until 2017), and (since 2015) participation in the Celebration Bowl. Beginning 2018, the SWAC will discontinue its championship game and send its regular season champion to the Celebration Bowl, freeing up the conference's second-place finisher (if it is not Grambling State, Alabama State or Southern) to accept an at-large bid.

Sports

Men's team sports

NumberSportTeams [22] ConferencesScholarships
per team
SeasonMost Championships
1 Football 252
(128 FBS, 124 FCS)
23
(10 FBS, 13 FCS)
85 (FBS)
63.0 (FCS)
Fall Disputed [23]
2 Basketball 3513213Winter UCLA (11)
3 Baseball 2983111.7Spring USC (12)
4 Soccer 204239.9Fall St. Louis (10)
5 Wrestling 7579.9Winter Oklahoma State (34)
6 Ice Hockey 60618.0Winter Michigan (9)
7 Lacrosse 681012.6Spring Syracuse (10)
8 Volleyball 2244.5Spring UCLA (19)
9 Water Polo 2244.5Fall California (13)

Sports are ranked according to total possible scholarships (number of teams x number of scholarships per team). Scholarship numbers for head-count sports are indicated without a decimal point. Numbers for equivalency sports are indicated with a decimal point, with a trailing zero if needed.

Notes:

The NCAA officially classifies the men's championships in volleyball and water polo as "National Collegiate" championships, that being the designation for championships that are open to members of more than one NCAA division. The ice hockey championship, however, is styled as a "Division I" championship because of the previous existence of a separate Division II championship in that sport.

Men's individual sports

The following table lists the men's individual DI sports with at least 1,000 participating athletes. Sports are ranked by number of athletes.

No.SportTeams (2015) [25] Teams (1982) [25] ChangeAthletes [25] Season
1Track (outdoor)278230+4811,067Spring
2Track (indoor)257209+4810,174Winter
3Cross country311256+564,845Fall
4Swimming & diving134181–473,839Winter
5Golf297263+342,947Spring
6Tennis258267–92,678Spring
7Wrestling76146–702,520Winter

DI college wrestling has lost almost half of its programs since 1982. [26]

Women's team sports

No.SportTeams [27] Confe­rencesScholarships
per team
SeasonMost Championships
1Basketball3493215Winter Connecticut (11)
2Soccer 333 3114.0Fall North Carolina (21)
3Volleyball 334 3212*Fall Penn State, Stanford (7)
4Softball2953212.0Spring UCLA (11)
5Rowing881220.0Spring Brown (7)
6Lacrosse1121312.0Spring Maryland (12)
7Field Hockey781012.0Fall Old Dominion (9)
8Ice Hockey40418.0Winter Minnesota (6)
9Beach Volleyball4756.0*Spring USC (2)
10Water Polo3468.0Spring UCLA (7)

Notes:

Women's individual sports

The following table lists the women's individual DI sports with at least 1,000 participating athletes. Sports are ranked by number of athletes.

No.SportTeams (2015) [25] Teams (1982) [25] ChangeAthletes [25] Season
1Track (outdoor)329180+14913,075Spring
2Track (indoor)319127+19212,816Winter
3Cross country342183+1596,031Fall
4Swimming & diving195161+345,393Winter
5Golf25983+1762,170Spring
6Tennis318246+722,912Spring
7Gymnastics6199–381,085Winter

Broadcasting and revenue

NCAA Division I schools have broadcasting contracts that showcase their more popular sports — typically football and men's basketball — on network television and in basic cable channels. These contracts can be quite lucrative, particularly for DI schools from the biggest conferences. For example, the Big Ten conference in 2016 entered into contracts with Fox and ESPN that pay the conference $2.64 billion over six years.

The NCAA also holds certain TV contracts. For example, the NCAA's contract to show the men's basketball championship tournament (widely known as March Madness) is currently under a 14-year deal with CBS and Turner that runs from 2010 to 2024 and pays $11 billion.

For the 2014–15 fiscal year, the conferences that earned the most revenues (and that distributed the most revenues to each of their member schools) were:

  1. SEC — $527 million (dispersed $33 million to each of its member schools)
  2. Big 10 — $449 million (dispersed $32 million each)
  3. Pac 12 — $439 million (dispersed $25 million each)
  4. ACC — $403 million (dispersed $26 million each)
  5. Big 12 — $268 million (dispersed $23 million each)
U.S. college sports sports TV rights
Sports rightsSportNational TV contractTotal Revenues
(Per Year)
Ref
NCAA March Madness Basketball CBS, Turner $8.8bn ($1.1bn)
College Football Playoff FootballESPN$5.6bn ($470m)
Pac-12 Conference AllFox, ESPN$3.0bn ($250m)
Big Ten Conference (Big Ten/B1G)AllFox, ESPN, CBS$2.6bn ($440m) [31]
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)AllESPN$3.6bn ($240m)
Big 12 Conference AllFox, ESPN$2.6bn ($200m)
Southeastern Conference (SEC)AllCBS, ESPN$2.6bn ($205m)
American Athletic Conference AllESPN$910m ($130m)
Mountain West Conference AllCBS, ESPN$116m ($18m) [32]
Mid-American Conference (MAC)AllESPN$100m ($8m) [33]

Scholarship limits by sport

The NCAA has limits on the total financial aid each Division I member may award in each sport that the school sponsors. It divides sports that are sponsored into two types for purposes of scholarship limitations:

The term "counter" is also key to this concept. The NCAA defines a "counter" as "an individual who is receiving institutional financial aid that is countable against the aid limitations in a sport." [34]

The number of scholarships that Division I members may award in each sport is listed below. In this table, scholarship numbers for head-count sports are indicated without a decimal point; for equivalency sports, they are listed with a decimal point, with a trailing zero if required.

SportMen'sWomen's
Baseball
11.7 [35] [nb 1]
Basketball
13 [41]
15 [42]
Beach volleyball
6.0 [nb 2]
Bowling
5.0 [45]
Cross-country/track & field
12.6 [46] [nb 3]
18.0 [45] [nb 4]
Equestrian
15.0 [45]
Fencing
4.5 [46]
5.0 [45]
Field hockey
12.0 [45]
Football
85 (FBS) [48] [nb 5]
63.0 (FCS) [49] [nb 6]
Golf
4.5 [46]
6.0 [45]
Gymnastics
6.3 [46]
12 [51]
Ice hockey
18.0 [52] [nb 7]
18.0 [nb 8]
Lacrosse
12.6 [46]
12.0 [45]
Rifle
3.6 [46] [nb 9]
Rowing
20.0 [45]
Rugby
12.0 [45]
Skiing
6.3 [46]
7.0 [45]
Soccer
9.9 [46]
14.0 [45]
Softball
12.0 [45]
Swimming and diving
9.9 [46]
14.0 [45]
Tennis
4.5 [46]
8 [51]
Triathlon
6.5 [nb 10]
Volleyball
4.5 [46]
12 [51]
Water polo
4.5 [46]
8.0 [45]
Wrestling
9.9 [46]
  1. This total is also subject to the following restrictions:
    • The number of total counters is limited to 27. [35]
    • Each counter must receive "athletically related and other countable financial aid" equal to at least 25% of a full scholarship. [36] Most institutional and governmental non-athletic aid falls in the "countable" category; [37] an official NCAA rules interpretation also allows schools to count aid that would otherwise be exempt by NCAA rule (such as purely academic awards) toward the 25% limit, as long as it also is included in the calculations for the team equivalency limit. [38] The 25% rule does not apply to baseball schools that offer only need-based aid (such as Ivy League members). [39] A second exception to the 25% rule, added in 2012, is for players in their final year of athletic eligibility who have not previously received athletically related aid in baseball at any college. [40]
  2. This total is for schools that also sponsor women's indoor volleyball. [43] If a school does not sponsor women's indoor volleyball, it is allowed 8.0 equivalents for beach volleyball. [44] For all schools, the maximum number of counters in beach volleyball is 14. [43] [44]
  3. If a school sponsors men's cross-country but does not sponsor either indoor or outdoor track and field for men, it is allowed 5.0 scholarship equivalents for that sport. [47]
  4. If a school sponsors women's cross-country but does not sponsor either indoor or outdoor track and field for women, it is allowed 6.0 scholarship equivalents for that sport. [47]
  5. FBS programs are also limited to 25 new counters per school year. [48]
  6. FCS programs are also limited to 85 total counters per school year. [49] Effective with the recruiting cycle for the 2018–19 school year, the previous limit of 30 new counters per year for FCS programs has been removed. [50]
  7. The number of total counters is limited to 30. [52]
  8. The NCAA Division I Manual does not include any scholarship limitations for women's ice hockey. These limitations are instead found in the Division II Manual. [53] Note also that the Division II Manual does not include any limit on total counters for any sport, including women's ice hockey.
  9. The NCAA classifies rifle as a men's sport, despite the fact that competitions are fully coeducational. Of the 33 NCAA rifle schools (23 in Division I, 4 in Division II, and 6 in Division III), 22 field a single coed/mixed team. Six schools (five in Division I and one in Division III) field women-only teams. Schools are also allowed to field any combination of men's, women's, and mixed teams. Currently, one D-I school and one D-III school field separate men's and women's teams; one D-I school and one D-II school field a women-only team plus a mixed team; and one D-I school (VMI) fields all three types of teams. The scholarship limits are per school, not per team.
  10. The NCAA adopted triathlon as its newest "emerging sport" for women effective with the 2014–15 school year, with an initial limit of 3.5 scholarship equivalents. The total number of equivalents reached its final value of 6.5 in 2017–18. [45]

Rules for multi-sport athletes

The NCAA also has rules specifying the sport in which multi-sport athletes are to be counted, with the basic rules being: [54]

Football subdivisions

Subdivisions in Division I exist only in football. [56] [57] In all other sports, all Division I conferences are equivalent. The subdivisions were recently given names to reflect the differing levels of football play in them.

The method by which the NCAA determines whether a school is Bowl or Championship subdivision is first by attendance numbers and then by scholarships. [58] For attendance reporting methods, the NCAA allows schools to report either total tickets sold or the number of persons in attendance at the games. They require a minimum average of 15,000 people in attendance every other year. [58] These numbers get posted to the NCAA statistics website for football each year. With the new rules starting in the 2006 season, the number of Bowl Subdivision schools could drop in the future if those schools are not able to pull in enough fans into the games. Additionally, 14 FCS schools had enough attendance to be moved up in 2012. [59] Under current NCAA rules, these schools must have an invitation from an FBS conference in order to move to FBS. Three of them—Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, and Old Dominion—began FBS transitions in 2013. All had the required FBS conference invitations, with Old Dominion joining Conference USA in 2013, and Appalachian State and Georgia Southern joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. The difference in the postseasons in each of the subdivisions grant the FCS an advantage to have the best record in college football history, 17–0, while the FBS only allows a 15–0 record.

Football Bowl Subdivision

Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the top level of college football. Schools in Division I FBS compete in post-season bowl games, with the champions of five conferences, along with the highest-ranked champion of the other five conferences, receiving automatic bids to the access bowls.

FBS schools are limited to a total of 85 football players receiving financial assistance. [60] For competitive reasons, a student receiving partial scholarship counts fully against the total of 85. Nearly all FBS schools that are not on NCAA probation give 85 full scholarships.

As of the next college football season of 2019, there will be 130 full members of Division I FBS. The most recent school to become a full FBS member is Liberty University, which made the transition from FCS in 2017 and 2018.

Since the 2016 season, all FBS conferences have been allowed to conduct a championship game that does not count against the limit of 12 regular-season contests. Under the current rules, such a game can be held either (1) between the winners of each of two divisions, with each team having played a full round-robin schedule within its division, or (2) between the conference's top two teams after a full round-robin conference schedule. [61] Previously, "exempt" championship games could only be held between the divisional winners of conferences that had at least 12 football teams and split into divisions. [62] [63] The prize is normally a specific bowl game bid for which the conference has a tie-in.

Some conferences have numbers in their names but this often has no relation to the number of member institutions in the conference. The Big Ten Conference did not formally adopt the "Big Ten" name until 1987, but unofficially used that name when it had 10 members from 1917 to 1946, and again from 1949 forward. However, it has continued to use the name even after it expanded to 11 members with the addition of Penn State in 1990, 12 with the addition of Nebraska in 2011, and 14 with the arrival of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. The Big 12 Conference was established in 1996 with 12 members, but continues to use that name even after a number of departures and a few replacements left the conference with 10 members. On the other hand, the Pac-12 Conference has used names (official or unofficial) that have reflected the number of members since its current charter was established in 1959. The conference unofficially used "Big Five" (1959–62), "Big Six" (1962–64), and "Pacific-8" (1964–68) before officially adopting the "Pacific-8" name. The name duly changed to "Pacific-10" in 1978 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State, and "Pac-12" (instead of "Pacific-12") in 2011 when Colorado and Utah joined. Conferences also tend to ignore their regional names when adding new schools. For example, the Pac-8/10/12 retained its "Pacific" moniker even though its four newest members (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) are located in the inland West, and the original Big East kept its name even after adding schools (either in all sports or for football only) located in areas traditionally considered to be in the Midwest (Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame), Upper South (Louisville, Memphis) and Southwest (Houston, SMU). The non-football conference that assumed the Big East name when the original Big East split in 2013 is another example of this phenomenon, as half of its 10 inaugural schools (Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Marquette, Xavier) are traditionally regarded as being Midwestern.

Conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedMembersSportsHeadquarters
American Athletic Conference The American1979 [lower-alpha 1] 12 [lower-alpha 2] [lower-alpha 3] 22 Providence, Rhode Island
Atlantic Coast Conference **ACC195315 [lower-alpha 4] 26 Greensboro, North Carolina
Big Ten Conference **Big Ten, B1G189614 [lower-alpha 5] 28 Rosemont, Illinois
Big 12 Conference **Big 12199610 [lower-alpha 6] 21 Irving, Texas
Conference USA C-USA1995 [lower-alpha 7] 14 [lower-alpha 8] 19 Irving, Texas
Division I FBS Independents [lower-alpha 9] 6
Mid-American Conference MAC194612 [lower-alpha 10] 23 Cleveland, Ohio
Mountain West Conference MW199911 [lower-alpha 11] [lower-alpha 12] 19 Colorado Springs, Colorado
Pac-12 Conference **Pac-121915 [lower-alpha 13] 12 [lower-alpha 14] 24 Walnut Creek, California
Southeastern Conference **SEC19321420 Birmingham, Alabama
Sun Belt Conference Sun Belt197612 [lower-alpha 15] [lower-alpha 16] 18 New Orleans, Louisiana

(** "Big Five" or "Power Five" conferences with guaranteed berths in the "access bowls" associated with the College Football Playoff)

Notes
  1. The conference was founded in 1979 as the original Big East Conference. It renamed itself the American Athletic Conference following a 2013 split along football lines. The non-FBS schools of the original conference left to form a new conference that purchased the Big East name, while the FBS schools continued to operate under the old Big East's charter and structure. The American also inherited the old Big East's Bowl Championship Series berth for the 2013 season, the last for the BCS.
  2. 11 of the 12 full members sponsor football, with Wichita State as the only non-football member.
  3. In addition to the full members, six schools have single-sport associate membership:
  4. Notre Dame is a full member except in football, in which it remains independent. It has committed to play five games each season against ACC opponents, and to play each other ACC member at least once every three years.
  5. In addition to the full members, two schools have affiliate membership:
    • Johns Hopkins, otherwise a Division III member, is an affiliate in both men's and women's lacrosse, sports in which the school fields Division I teams.
    • Notre Dame is a men's hockey affiliate.
  6. In addition to the full members, the Big 12 has 11 members that participate in only one sport:
  7. The conference was founded in 1995, with football competition starting in 1996.
  8. In addition to the 14 full members, Conference USA features three schools that play men's soccer in the conference: Kentucky, New Mexico, and South Carolina. New Mexico will drop men's soccer after the 2018 season.
  9. Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  10. In addition to the 12 full members, the Mid-American Conference features nine members which only participate in one sport each, plus one other school that competes in two sports. In July 2019, the MAC will absorb the single-sport Eastern Wrestling League (EWL), adding seven more associates.
  11. Since 2012, Hawaiʻi has been a football-only associate member, with most of its remaining teams in the non-football Big West Conference.
  12. In addition to the 11 full members and football affiliate Hawaiʻi, Colorado College, a Division III school with a Division I men's ice hockey team, plays Division I women's soccer in the MW.
  13. The charter of the Pac-12 dates only to the formation of the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU) in 1959. However, the Pac-12 claims the history of the Pacific Coast Conference, which was founded in 1915 and began competition in 1916, as its own. Of the nine members of the PCC at the time of its demise in June 1959, only Idaho never joined the Pac-12. The PCC's berth in the Rose Bowl passed to the AAWU.
  14. The Pac-12 also includes several associate members which compete in one or two sports in the conference. San Diego State plays men's soccer. Cal State Bakersfield and Cal Poly compete in wrestling. Cal Poly also participates in men's swimming and diving, which the NCAA considers a single sport. UC Santa Barbara only competes in men's swimming and diving.
  15. Ten Sun Belt Conference members currently sponsor football, with Little Rock and UT Arlington as members that do not play football at all.
  16. Howard is a men's soccer affiliate. Central Arkansas will become a men's soccer affiliate in 2019.

Football Championship Subdivision

The Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA, consists of 124 teams as of the 2018 season; three programs are independent, while the remaining 121 teams are structured into 13 conferences. [64] The "I-AA" designation was dropped by the NCAA twelve years ago in 2006, although it is still informally and commonly used. FCS teams are limited to 63 players on scholarship (compared to 85 for FBS teams) and usually play an 11-game schedule (compared to 12 games for FBS teams). [65] The FCS determines its national champion through an NCAA-sanctioned single-elimination bracket tournament, culminating in a title game, the NCAA Division I Football Championship. [66] As of the 2018 season, the tournament begins with 24 teams; 10 conference champions that received automatic bids, and 14 teams selected at-large by a selection committee. [67]

The postseason tournament traditionally begins on Thanksgiving weekend in late November. When I-AA was formed 40 years ago in 1978, [11] the playoffs included just four teams for its first three seasons, doubling to eight teams for one season in 1981. [68] From 1982 to 1985, there was a 12-team tournament; this expanded to 16 teams in 1986. The playoffs expanded to 20 teams starting in 2010, then grew to 24 teams in 2013. Since the 2010 season, the title game is held in early January at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. From 1997 through 2009, the title game was played in December in Chattanooga, Tennessee, preceded by five seasons in Huntington, West Virginia. [69]

Abstainers

The Football Championship Subdivision includes several conferences which do not participate in the eponymous post-season championship tournament.

The Ivy League was reclassified to I-AA (FCS) following the 1981 season, [70] and plays a strict ten-game schedule. Although it qualifies for an automatic bid, the Ivy League has not played any postseason games at all since becoming a conference for the 1956 NCAA University Division football season, citing academic concerns. (The last college which is now an Ivy League member to play in a bowl game was Columbia in the 1934 Rose Bowl.)

The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has its own championship game in mid-December between the champions of its East and West divisions. Also, three of its member schools traditionally do not finish their regular seasons until Thanksgiving weekend. Grambling State and Southern play each other in the Bayou Classic, and Alabama State plays Tuskegee (of Division II) in the Turkey Day Classic. SWAC teams are eligible to accept at-large bids if their schedule is not in conflict. The last SWAC team to participate in the I-AA playoffs was Jackson State in 1997; the SWAC never achieved success in the tournament, going winless in 19 games in twenty years (1978–97). It had greater success outside the conference while in Division II and the preceding College Division.

From 2006 through 2009, the Pioneer Football League and Northeast Conference champions played in the Gridiron Classic. If a league champion was invited to the national championship playoff as an at-large bid (something the Pioneer league, at least, never received), the second-place team would play in the Gridiron Classic. That game was scrapped after the 2009 season when its four-year contract ran out; this coincided with the NCAA's announcement that the Northeast Conference would get an automatic bid to the tournament starting in 2010. The Big South Conference also received an automatic bid in the same season. The Pioneer Football League earned an automatic bid beginning in 2013.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) began abstaining from the playoffs with the 2015 season. Like the SWAC, its members are eligible for at-large bids, and the two conferences have faced off in the Celebration Bowl as an alternative postseason game since the 2015 season.

Schools in a transition period after joining the FCS from a lower division (or from the NAIA) are also ineligible for the playoffs.

Scholarships

Division I FCS schools are currently restricted to giving financial assistance amounting to 63 full scholarships. As FCS football is an "equivalency" sport (as opposed to the "head-count" status of FBS football), Championship Subdivision schools may divide their allotment into partial scholarships. However, FCS schools may only have 85 players receiving any sort of athletic financial aid for football—the same numeric limit as FBS schools. Because of competitive forces, however, a substantial number of players in Championship Subdivision programs are on full scholarships. Another difference is that FCS schools no longer have a limit on the number of new players that can be provided with financial aid in a given season, while FBS schools are limited to 25 such additions per season. Finally, FCS schools are limited to 95 individuals participating in preseason practices, as opposed to 105 at FBS schools (the three service academies that play FBS football are exempt from preseason practice player limits by NCAA rule).

A few Championship Subdivision conferences are composed of schools that offer no athletic scholarships at all, most notably the Ivy League and the Pioneer Football League (PFL), a football-only conference. The Ivy League allows no athletic scholarships at all, while the PFL consists of schools that offer scholarships in other sports but choose not to take on the expense of a scholarship football program. The Northeast Conference also sponsored non-scholarship football, but began offering a maximum of 30 full scholarship equivalents in 2006, which grew to 40 in 2011 after a later vote of the league's school presidents and athletic directors. The Patriot League only began awarding football scholarships in the 2013 season, with the first scholarships awarded only to incoming freshmen. Before the conference began its transition to scholarship football, athletes receiving scholarships in other sports were ineligible to play football for member schools. Since the completion of the transition with the 2016 season, member schools have been allowed up to 60 full scholarship equivalents. [71]

Conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedFull MembersSportsHeadquarters FCS Tournament Bid
Big Sky Conference Big Sky196311 [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] 16 Ogden, Utah Automatic
Big South Conference Big South198311 [lower-alpha 3] 18 Charlotte, North Carolina Automatic
Colonial Athletic Association CAA1983 [lower-alpha 4] 10 [lower-alpha 5] [lower-alpha 6] 21 Richmond, Virginia Automatic
Division I FCS Independents [lower-alpha 7] 3 [lower-alpha 8]
Ivy League Ivy League1954 [lower-alpha 9] 833 Princeton, New Jersey Automatic – (Abstains)
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference MEAC197012 [lower-alpha 10] [lower-alpha 11] 15 Norfolk, Virginia Abstains
Missouri Valley Football Conference MVFC1985 [lower-alpha 12] 10 [lower-alpha 13] 1 St. Louis, Missouri Automatic
Northeast Conference NEC198110 [lower-alpha 14] [lower-alpha 15] [lower-alpha 16] 22 [lower-alpha 17] Somerset, New Jersey Automatic
Ohio Valley Conference OVC194812 [lower-alpha 18] 17 Brentwood, Tennessee Automatic
Patriot League Patriot1986 [lower-alpha 19] 10 [lower-alpha 20] [lower-alpha 21] 23 Center Valley, Pennsylvania Automatic
Pioneer Football League PFL199110 [lower-alpha 22] 1 St. Louis, Missouri Automatic
Southern Conference SoCon192110 [lower-alpha 23] 22 Spartanburg, South Carolina Automatic
Southland Conference SLC196313 [lower-alpha 24] 17 Frisco, Texas Automatic
Southwestern Athletic Conference SWAC192010 [lower-alpha 25] 18 Birmingham, Alabama Abstains
Notes
  1. 13 football members with Cal Poly and UC Davis, both full members of the non-football Big West Conference, as football-only affiliates.
    • While North Dakota has become an FCS independent in football, it continues to play a full Big Sky football schedule through the 2019 season, after which it will join the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
  2. In addition to the full members and football affiliates, Binghamton and Hartford are associate members in men's golf.
  3. The Big South has four full members that compete for its football championship, plus two football-only associates in Kennesaw State and Monmouth.
    • The following changes are set to take place in the near future:
      • In 2019, two additional schools will enter Big South football—Hampton, which joined the league in non-football sports in 2018 and is playing that football season as an FCS independent, and North Alabama, which is spending the first season of its transition from Division II as an FCS independent.
      • In 2020, Dixie State will start a transition from Division II, playing football as an independent while placing its other sports in the non-football Western Athletic Conference, while Presbyterian football will leave for a transitional season as an FCS independent before joining the Pioneer League (though remaining a full Big South non-football member).
  4. The CAA football conference was only founded in 2007, but has a continuous history dating to the late 1930s (although not under the same charter):
    • The New England Conference was formed by five New England state universities, plus one private university in that region (Northeastern), in 1938. Four of the public schools—Maine, UMass, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island—were in the CAA football conference through the 2011 season. However, UMass football left for the MAC in 2012. URI football initially planned to leave for the Northeast Conference in 2013, but decided to remain in the CAA.
    • In 1946, the four then-remaining members of the New England Conference affiliated with two other schools to form the Yankee Conference under a separate charter, with athletic competition starting in 1947.
    • In 1997, the Yankee Conference was absorbed by the Atlantic 10 Conference. The A10 inherited the Yankee Conference's automatic berth in the Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs. In addition to the four charter New England Conference members mentioned above, five other members of the Yankee Conference at the time of the A10 merger are still in the CAA football conference.
    • After the 2006 season, all of the A10 football teams left for the new CAA football conference. The CAA inherited the A10's automatic berth in the FCS playoffs.
  5. The CAA has 10 full members, but only five of them are part of the CAA football conference. Currently, seven associate members fill out the ranks of the CAA football conference: Albany, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Richmond, Stony Brook, and Villanova. Villanova is also a CAA associate in women's rowing.
  6. In addition to the football associates, the CAA has three other associate members that each participate in one sport:
  7. Note that "Independents" is not a conference; it is simply a designation used for schools whose football programs do not play in any conference. All of these schools have conference memberships for other sports.
  8. 1 independent in 2019 with Hampton and North Alabama joining Big South football.
    • 2 independents in 2020 with North Dakota joining the MVFC, Dixie State transitioning to Division I as a football independent (with other sports in the non-football Western Athletic Conference), and Presbyterian transitioning to non-scholarship football.
    • 1 independent in 2021 with Presbyterian joining the Pioneer Football League.
  9. Although the conference considers 1954 to be its founding date, the athletic league's origins go back to the turn of the 20th century.
    • The Ivy League considers the Eastern Intercollegiate Basketball League (EIBL), a men's basketball-only conference founded in 1901, as part of its history. Every school that had been an EIBL member would become part of the Ivy League.
    • In 1945, the eight schools that would eventually form the athletic Ivy League entered into the Ivy Group Agreement, which governed football competition between the schools. The original agreement was renewed in 1952.
    • The official founding date of 1954 reflects the extension of the Ivy Group Agreement to all sports. As part of the agreement, Brown, the only one of the original Ivy Group that had not joined the EIBL, did so. All-sports competition began in 1955, with the EIBL directly absorbed into the new league.
  10. The football conference currently consists of 10 of the 12 member schools.
    • 11 full members and 9 football members in 2019 with Savannah State dropping to Division II.
  11. In addition to the full members, three other schools are associates in two sports:
    • Augusta, a Division II school that operates Division I programs in men's and women's golf, is an associate member in men's golf only.
    • Monmouth and UAB participate in women's bowling.
  12. The football conference dates to 1985, but the conference charter was established in 1982. See History of the Missouri Valley Football Conference for more details.
  13. North Dakota will join the MVFC in 2020.
  14. The conference has seven full members that sponsor football. Duquesne of the non-football Atlantic 10 is a football associate.
  15. 11 full members, 9 of which sponsor football, with the following changes in 2019:
    • Addition of Merrimack.
    • Merger of the athletic programs of full non-football NEC member LIU Brooklyn and Division II football-sponsoring LIU Post into a single athletic program under the LIU name, with the LIU Post football program becoming the new LIU football program.
  16. In addition to Duquesne in football, the NEC has three other associate members that each participate in one sport, with three more single-sport members joining in the near future:
    • Division II member Caldwell participates in women's bowling, as does Duquesne.
    • Hobart, otherwise a Division III member, and Saint Joseph's participate in men's lacrosse. NJIT will join for men's lacrosse in 2019.
    • Fairfield and Rider will join for field hockey in 2019.
  17. 23 sports in 2019 with addition of field hockey.
  18. The football conference consists of 9 of the 12 member schools. Morehead State plays non-scholarship football in the Pioneer Football League, while Belmont and SIU Edwardsville do not sponsor football.
  19. The Patriot League was founded as the football-only Colonial League in 1986. In 1990, it became an all-sports conference and adopted its current name.
  20. Five of the full members do not sponsor FCS football. American, Boston University and Loyola (Maryland) do not sponsor football at all; Army is an FBS independent; and Navy plays in the American Athletic Conference. Fordham and Georgetown are associate members in football.
  21. In addition to the football associates, two other schools have single-sport membership:
    • MIT, otherwise a Division III institution, is an associate in women's rowing.
    • Richmond is a women's golf associate.
  22. 11 members in 2021 with arrival of Presbyterian.
  23. In addition to the full members, the SoCon currently has 16 associate members which play one sport in the conference, with one more school set to become an associate in the near future:
  24. The football conference currently consists of 11 of the 13 member schools.
  25. In addition to the full members, Howard is an associate member in women's soccer.

Division I non-football schools

Several Bowl Subdivision and Championship Subdivision conferences have member institutions that do not compete in football. Such schools are sometimes unofficially referred to as I-AAA. [72]

The following non-football conferences have full members that sponsor football:

The following Division I conferences do not sponsor football. These conferences still compete in Division I for all sports that they sponsor.

Conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedMembersSportsHeadquarters
America East Conference America East19799 [lower-alpha 1] 19 Boston, Massachusetts
Atlantic Sun Conference ASUN19789 [lower-alpha 2] 19 Macon, Georgia
Atlantic 10 Conference A-10197514 [lower-alpha 3] 21 Newport News, Virginia
Big East Conference Big East2013 [lower-alpha 4] 10 [lower-alpha 5] 22 New York City, New York
Big West Conference Big West19699 [lower-alpha 6] [lower-alpha 7] 18 Irvine, California
Horizon League Horizon19791019 Indianapolis, Indiana
Independents [lower-alpha 8] Independents0 [lower-alpha 9]
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference MAAC198011 [lower-alpha 10] 23 [lower-alpha 11] Edison, New Jersey
Missouri Valley Conference MVC / Valley190710 [lower-alpha 12] 17 St. Louis, Missouri
The Summit League The Summit19829 [lower-alpha 13] 19 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
West Coast Conference WCC195210 [lower-alpha 14] 15 San Bruno, California
Western Athletic Conference WAC19629 [lower-alpha 15] [lower-alpha 16] 19 Greenwood Village, Colorado
Notes
  1. In addition to the full members, four schools are associate members in a single sport, and a fifth is an associate in two sports.
  2. In addition to the full members, the ASUN has four associate members, with one more set to join in the near future:
  3. In addition to the full members, Lock Haven, otherwise a Division II institution, and Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) are associate members in field hockey.
  4. The current Big East was formed in 2013 as a result of the split of the original Big East Conference. The original conference charter was retained by the football-sponsoring schools now known as the American Athletic Conference. While both leagues claim 1979 as their founding date, the current Big East maintains the history of the original conference in all sports that it sponsors. The pre-split histories of Big East football and rowing—the two sports that are sponsored by The American but not the current Big East—are not recognized by either offshoot conference.
  5. In addition to the full members, the following schools are Big East affiliates in one or more sports:
  6. In addition to the full members, the Big West has three associate members. CSU Bakersfield and Sacramento State are members in beach volleyball, and Sacramento State is also a member in men's soccer. UC San Diego, a Division II member, competes in men's volleyball, a sport in which D-I and D-II members compete under identical scholarship limitations for a single national championship. UCSD will add women's water polo, a sport with a single national championship for all three NCAA divisions, to its Big West membership in 2019.
  7. CSU Bakersfield and UC San Diego will become full members in 2020.
  8. Note that "Independents" is not a conference, it is simply a designation used to indicate schools which are not a member of any conference.
  9. There have been no independents since New Jersey Institute of Technology joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2015.
  10. In addition to the full members, 14 other schools are MAAC affiliates in one sport, and three others have multiple sports in the conference.
    • Albany, Dayton, and Hartford participate in women's golf.
    • Detroit Mercy and St. Bonaventure participate in men's lacrosse.
    • Drake, Robert Morris, and Stetson participate in women's rowing.
    • St. Francis Brooklyn, Villanova, VMI, and Wagner participate in women's water polo.
    • Bryant participates in field hockey and men's swimming and diving. The MAAC will end sponsorship of field hockey at the end of the 2018 season; the MAAC field hockey conference will be effectively taken over by Bryant's full-time home of the Northeast Conference. Bryant will remain a member in men's swimming and diving.
    • LIU Brooklyn and Sacred Heart, both full NEC members, participate in field hockey through the 2018 season.
      • Following the LIU athletic merger in 2019, field hockey will join the bulk of the athletic program in the NEC, but the school will add women's water polo and place that sport in the MAAC.
      • Sacred Heart will return field hockey to the NEC.
    • Jacksonville participates in women's rowing and the non-NCAA sport of men's rowing.
    • La Salle participates in women's golf and women's water polo.
  11. 22 sports in 2019 with discontinuation of field hockey.
  12. In addition to the full members, four schools house one sport in the conference:
    • Central Arkansas is an associate in men's soccer, but will move that sport to the Sun Belt Conference in 2019.
    • Dallas Baptist, otherwise a Division II institution, plays baseball.
    • Little Rock is an associate in women's swimming & diving.
    • Stony Brook competes in women's tennis.
  13. In addition to the full members, two schools are single-sport associates, and two others house multiple sports in the conference.
    • Drake and Illinois State are men's tennis associates.
    • Eastern Illinois is an associate member in men's soccer, plus men's and women's swimming & diving.
    • Valparaiso is an associate in men's swimming (it does not sponsor diving) and men's tennis.
  14. In addition to the full members, Creighton is an associate member in women's rowing.
  15. In 2020, CSU Bakersfield will leave for the Big West and Dixie State will join from Division II.
  16. In addition to the full members, the WAC currently has 9 associate members that house one or two sports in the conference:

Of these, the three that most recently sponsored football were the Atlantic 10, MAAC, and WAC. The A-10 football league dissolved in 2006 with its members going to the Colonial Athletic Association. In addition, four A-10 schools (Dayton, Fordham, Duquesne, and Massachusetts) play football in a conference other than the new CAA, which still includes two full-time A-10 members (Rhode Island and Richmond). The MAAC stopped sponsoring football in 2007, after most of its members gradually stopped fielding teams. The only pre-2007 MAAC member that still sponsors football is Marist; Monmouth became the second full MAAC member with football upon its arrival in 2013. Marist plays in the Pioneer Football League, while Monmouth spent the 2013 season as an FCS independent before moving its football program into the Big South. The WAC dropped football at the end of the 2012 season, after a near-complete membership turnover that saw the conference stripped of all but two of its football-sponsoring members. The two remaining football-sponsoring schools, Idaho and New Mexico State, played the 2013 season as FBS independents before becoming football-only members of the Sun Belt Conference in 2014. Both left Sun Belt football in 2018, with Idaho downgrading to FCS status and adding football to its all-sports Big Sky Conference membership and New Mexico State becoming an FBS independent.

Division I in ice hockey

Some sports, most notably ice hockey [74] and men's volleyball, have completely different conference structures that operate outside of the normal NCAA sports conference structure.

As ice hockey is limited to a much smaller number of almost exclusively Northern schools, there is a completely different conference structure for teams. [74] These conferences feature a mix of teams that play their other sports in various Division I conferences, and even Division II and Division III schools. For most of the early 21st century, there was no correlation between a team's ice hockey affiliation and its affiliation for other sports, with the exception of the Ivy League's hockey-playing schools all being members of the ECAC. For example, before 2013, the Hockey East men's conference consisted of one ACC school, one Big East school, four schools from the America East, one from the A-10, one CAA school, and two schools from the D-II Northeast Ten Conference, while the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) both had some Big Ten representation, plus Division II and III schools. Also, the divisional structure is truncated, with the Division II championship abolished in 1999.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ceased its sponsorship of the sport in 2003, [75] with the remaining members forming Atlantic Hockey. For the next decade, no regular all-sport conferences sponsored ice hockey.

Starting with the 2013–14 season, Division I men's hockey experienced a major realignment. The Big Ten Conference began to sponsor ice hockey, and their institutions withdrew their membership from the WCHA and CCHA. [76] Additionally, six other schools from those conferences withdrew to form the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference at the same time. [77] The fallout from these moves led to the demise of the CCHA, two more teams entering the NCHC, and further membership turnover in the men's side of the WCHA.

Women's hockey was largely unaffected by this realignment. The Big Ten still has only four members with varsity women's hockey, with six teams required under conference bylaws for official sponsorship. As a result, the only changes in women's hockey affiliations in the 2010–14 period occurred in College Hockey America, which saw two schools drop the sport and three new members join.

Conferences

ConferenceNicknameFoundedMembersMenWomen
Atlantic Hockey AHC19971111none
Big Ten Conference Big Ten, B1G1896 [lower-alpha 1] 77none
College Hockey America CHA1999 [lower-alpha 2] 6none6
ECAC Hockey N/A1962121212
Hockey East N/A1984121110
Independents 6 [lower-alpha 3] 15 [lower-alpha 4]
National Collegiate Hockey Conference NCHC2011 [lower-alpha 5] 88none
Western Collegiate Hockey Association WCHA195115107
Notes
  1. Founded as an all-sports conference in 1896, but did not sponsor ice hockey until 2013–14.
  2. Founded as a men's-only conference in 1999, with women's hockey added in 2002. Men's hockey was dropped after the 2009–10 season.
  3. The only independent men's program in 2018–19 is Arizona State. Five women's programs are currently independent. Sacred Heart has played as such since 2003–04, and Franklin Pierce, Post, Saint Anselm, and Saint Michael's began playing as such in 2017–18. All five current independents are part of the New England Women's Hockey Alliance, a scheduling agreement that has now organized as a full conference and plans to seek official NCAA recognition for 2019–20 and beyond.
  4. No women's independents in 2019 if the NCAA recognizes the NEWHA as a conference. 6 women's independents otherwise, with the newly merged LIU athletic program adding the sport in 2019 as a member of the NEWHA.
  5. Date of founding; play began in 2013–14.

Classification debate

In the early 21st century, a controversy arose in the NCAA over whether schools will continue to be allowed to have one showcased program in Division I with the remainder of the athletic program in a lower division, as is the case of, notably, Johns Hopkins University lacrosse as well as Colorado College and University of Alabama in Huntsville in ice hockey. This is an especially important issue in hockey, which has no Division II national championship and has several schools whose other athletic programs compete in Division II and Division III.

This controversy was resolved at the 2004 NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee when the members supported Proposal 65-1, the amended legislation co-sponsored by Colorado College, Clarkson University, Hartwick College, the Johns Hopkins University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rutgers University–Newark, St. Lawrence University, and SUNY Oneonta. [78] [79] Each school affected by this debate is allowed to grant financial aid to student-athletes who compete in Division I programs in one men's sport and one women's sport. It is still permitted for other schools to place one men's and one women's sport in Division I going forward, but they cannot offer scholarships without bringing the whole program into compliance with Division I rules. In addition, schools in Divisions II and III are allowed to "play up" in any sport that does not have a championship for the school's own division, but only Division II programs and any Division III programs covered by the exemption can offer scholarships in those sports.

The Division I programs at each of the eight "waiver schools" which were grandfathered with the passing of Proposal 65-1 were:

See also

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Ohio Valley Conference US college athletic conference

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Patriot League U.S. college athletic conference

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Big South Conference college athletic conference in southeastern USA

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Colonial Athletic Association US collegiate athletic conference

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Atlantic Sun Conference US college sports league

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The Big East Conference is a collegiate athletic conference that competes in NCAA Division I in all sports except football, which is not sponsored. The conference has been officially recognized as a Division I multi-sport conference, effective on August 1, 2013. The conference was originally founded by Dave Gavitt on May 31, 1979.

References

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