NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision independent schools are four-year institutions in the United States whose football programs are not part of a football conference. This means that FCS independents are not required to schedule each other for competition as conference schools do.
As of the current 2021 FCS football season, no schools play as FCS independents. Three schools had played as such in the 2020–21 season, mostly moved from its regular fall 2020 schedule to spring 2021 due to COVID-19, but all joined football conferences in July 2021.
Presbyterian spent only the 2020–21 season as an independent; it began a transition to non-scholarship FCS football in 2017 and played the final season of that transition as an FCS independent before joining the Pioneer Football League (PFL); it remains a full but non-football member of the Big South Conference. After two of the nine PFL members opted out of the league's rescheduled spring 2021 season, the PFL entered into a scheduling agreement that guaranteed the Blue Hose games against all remaining PFL teams. Presbyterian was not eligible for the PFL title, but was eligible for individual PFL awards and honors.
Also in 2020, Dixie State and Tarleton moved up from Division II, with both joining the non-football Western Athletic Conference. At the time, both schools announced they would play as FCS independents for the foreseeable future. That changed in January 2021 when the WAC announced it would reinstate football at the FCS level. The WAC had initially planned to relaunch its football league for the 2022 season with the arrival of five new members with FCS football.However, the relaunch of football was moved to fall 2021 after the Southland Conference, which was home to four of the five incoming WAC members, expelled those schools effective at the end of the 2020–21 school year.
A fourth school, Robert Morris, had initially planned to play the 2020 season as an independent. Robert Morris left the football-sponsoring Northeast Conference for the non-football Horizon League in July 2020 and had planned to join Big South football in 2021. However, after three Big South football teams opted out of playing in the conference's rescheduled spring 2021 season (with two playing in fall 2020 and the other not playing at all in 2020–21), the conference brought Robert Morris into its football league ahead of schedule. The Colonials played in the Big South's spring 2021 season and were eligible for the league title.
None as of the fall 2021 season.
The following is a complete list of teams which have been Division I-AA/FCS Independents since the formation of Division I-AA in 1978. The "Current Conference" column indicates affiliations for the (fall) 2021 college football season. Years listed in this table are football seasons; since football is a fall sport, this means that the final season of independent status, or for membership in a given conference, is the calendar year before a conference change took effect.
Teams in italics are current FBS members; this includes second-year transitional schools that are counted as FBS for scheduling purposes but not bowl game eligibility.
|Years||Team||Previous conference||Conference joined||Current conference|
|2013||Abilene Christian||Lone Star (Div. II)||Southland (2014–2020)||WAC (2021–present)|
|1987–1991||Arkansas State||Southland||Division I-A Independent (1992)||Sun Belt (2001–present)|
|1997–2000||Austin Peay||Ohio Valley||Pioneer Football League (2001–2005)|
|2006||Pioneer Football League||Ohio Valley (2007–present)|
|1978–1985||Bucknell||Division II Independent||Patriot League (1986–present)|
|1993–1998||Buffalo||Division III Independent||Mid-American Conference (1999–present)|
|1996–2003||Cal Poly||American West||Great West (2004–2011)||Big Sky (2012–present)|
|2001||Cal State Northridge||Big Sky||Dropped football|
|2006||Central Arkansas||Gulf South (Div. II)||Southland (2007–2020)|| WAC (2021) |
|1993–1995||Central Connecticut||Division II Independent||Northeast (1996–present)|
|1993–2001||Charleston Southern||No football program||Big South (2002–present)|
|2013–2014||Charlotte||No football program||C–USA (2015–present)|
|2016||Coastal Carolina||Big South||Sun Belt (2017–present)|
|1982–1985||Colgate||Division I-A Independent||Patriot League (1986–present)|
|1989||Davidson||Colonial League||Division III Independent (1990–1992)|
|1993–2000||Division III Independent||Pioneer Football League (2001–present)|
|1980–1985||Delaware||Division II Independent||Yankee Conference (1986–1996)||CAA Football (2007–present)|
|2020||Dixie State||RMAC (Division II)||WAC (2021–present)|
|1993||Duquesne||Division III Independent||MAAC (1994–2007)||Northeast (2008–present)|
|2015||East Tennessee State||No football program||Southern (2016–present)|
|1984–1986||Eastern Washington||Division II Independent||Big Sky (1987–present)|
|1998–2001||Elon||Division II Independent||Big South (2002)||CAA Football (2014–present)|
|1984–1987||Florida A&M||MEAC||MEAC (1988–2003, 2005–2020)||SWAC (2021–present)|
|2004||MEAC||MEAC (2005–2020)||SWAC (2021–present)|
|2002–2004||FIU||No football program||Sun Belt (2005–2012)||C–USA (2013–present)|
|2001–2004||Florida Atlantic||No football program||Sun Belt (2005–2012)||C–USA (2013–present)|
|1989||Fordham||Liberty Football Conference||Patriot League (1990–present)|
|2000||Georgetown||MAAC||Patriot League (2001–present)|
|1984–1991||Georgia Southern||Club football||Southern (1992–2013)||Sun Belt (2014–present)|
|2011||Georgia State||Unclassified (exhibition only)||CAA Football (2012)||Sun Belt (2013–present)|
|2018||Hampton||MEAC||Big South (2019–present)|
|1991–2000||Hofstra||Division III Independent||Atlantic 10 (2001–2006)||Dropped football|
|1982–1985||Holy Cross||Division I-A Independent||Patriot League (1986–present)|
|2013||Houston Baptist||No football program||Southland (2014–present)|
|2008||Iona||MAAC (1993–2007)||Dropped football|
|2013||Incarnate Word||Lone Star (Div. II)||Southland (2014–present)|
|1982–1985||Indiana State||Division I-A Independent||MVFC (1997–present)|
|1998–2000||Jacksonville||No football program||Pioneer Football League (2001–2019)||Dropped football|
|1980–1992||James Madison||Division III Independent||Yankee Conference (1993–1996)||CAA Football (2007–present)|
|1978–1985||Lafayette||Division II Independent||Patriot League (1986–present)|
|1987–1989||Lamar||Southland||Dropped program (1989–2009)|
|2010||No football program||Southland (2011–2020)||WAC (2021–present)|
|1997–1998||La Salle||No football program (1942–1996)||MAAC (1999–2007)||Dropped football|
|1978–1985||Lehigh||Division II Independent||Patriot League (1986–present)|
|1988–2001||Liberty||Division II Independent||Big South (2002–2017)||Division I FBS independent (2018–present)|
|1987–1988||Louisiana Tech||Southland||Division I-A Independent (1989–1992)||C–USA (2013–present)|
|1993||Marist||Liberty Football Conference||MAAC (1994–2007)|
|2008||MAAC||Pioneer Football League (2009–present)|
|1994–1995||Monmouth||Unclassified Independent||Northeast (1996–2012)|
|2013||Northeast||Big South (2014–present)|
|1996–2000||Morehead State||Ohio Valley||Pioneer Football League (2001–present)|
|2001–2002||Morris Brown||SIAC (Div. II)||Dropped football|
|1978||Nevada||Division II Independent||Big Sky (1979–1991)||Mountain West (2012–present)|
|1980–1983||Nicholls||Division II Independent||Gulf Star (1984–1986)||Southland (1992–present)|
|1987–1990||Gulf Star||Southland (1991–present)|
|2018||North Alabama||Gulf South (Div. II)|| Big South (2019–2021)|
|2018–2019||North Dakota||Big Sky||MVFC (2020–present)|
|1978–1992||Northeastern||Division II Independent||Yankee (1993–1996)||Dropped football (2010)|
|2003||Northern Colorado||North Central||Great West (2004–2005)||Big Sky (2006–present)|
|1978–1983||Northwestern State||Division I Independent||Gulf Star (1984–1986)||Southland (1987–present)|
|2009–2010||Old Dominion||No football program||CAA Football (2011–2012)|
|2013||CAA Football||C–USA (2014–present)|
|1978–1980||Portland State||Division II Independent||Division II Independent (1981)||Big Sky (1996–present)|
|2020||Presbyterian||Big South Conference||Pioneer Football League (2021–present)|
|1982–1985||Richmond||Division I-A Independent||Yankee Conference (1986–1996)||CAA Football (2007–present)|
|1994–1995||Robert Morris||No football program||Northeast (1996–2019)||Big South (2020–present)|
|1993–1995||Saint Francis (PA)||Division III Independent||Northeast (1996–present)|
|1989–2002||Samford||Division III Independent||Ohio Valley (2003–2007)||Southern (2008–present)|
|2002–2009||Savannah State||Division II Independent||MEAC (2010–2018)||SIAC (Div. II; 2019–present)|
|2011||South Alabama||Unclassified (exhibition only)||Sun Belt (2012–present)|
|1997–2000||South Florida||No football program||Division I-A Independent (2001–2002)||American (2013–present)|
|1980–1983||Southeastern Louisiana||Division II Independent||Gulf Star (1984–1985)||Southland (2005–present)|
|2003–2004||No football program||Southland (2005–present)|
|1996–2003||Southern Utah||American West||Great West (2004–2011)|| Big Sky (2012–2021)|
|1998–1999||St. John's||MAAC||Northeast (2000–2002)||Dropped football (2003)|
|1993–2003||Saint Mary's||Division II Independent||Dropped football (2004)|
|2007||Stony Brook||Northeast||Big South (2008–2012)||CAA Football (2013–present)|
|2020||Tarleton||Lone Star (Division II)||WAC (2021–present)|
|1981–1987||Tennessee State||Division I-A Independent||Ohio Valley (1988–present)|
|1987–1996||Towson||Division II Independent||Patriot League (1997–2003)||CAA Football (2007–present)|
|1993–1995||Troy||Division II Independent||Southland (1996–2000)|
|2001||Southland||Division I-A Independent (2002–2003)||Sun Belt (2004–present)|
|1993–1995||UAB||Division III Independent||Division I-A Independent (1996–1998)||C–USA (2017–present)|
|1990–1995||UCF||Division II Independent||Division I-A Independent (1996–2001)||American (2013–present)|
|2011||UTSA||No football program||WAC (2012)||C–USA (2013–present)|
|1987||Villanova||No football program||Yankee Conference (1988–1996)||CAA Football (2007–Present)|
|1993–1995||Wagner||Liberty Football Conference||Northeast (1996–present)|
|1982–1998||Western Kentucky||Ohio Valley||Ohio Valley (1999–2000)|
|2007–2008||Gateway Football Conference||Sun Belt (2009–2013)||C–USA (2014–present)|
|1982–1992||William & Mary||Division I-A Independent||Yankee Conference (1993–1996)||CAA Football (2007–present)|
|1995–1996||Wofford||Division II Independent||Southern (1997–present)|
|2006||Winston–Salem State||CIAA (Div. II)||MEAC (2007–2009)||CIAA (Div. II) (2010–present)|
|1988–1996||Youngstown State||Ohio Valley||MVFC (1997–present)|
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