NCAA Division I FCS independent schools

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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.

Contents

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. [1] [2]

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. [3] 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. [4] [5]

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. [6]

Current FCS independents

None as of the fall 2021 season.

Former FCS independents

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.

YearsTeamPrevious conferenceConference joinedCurrent conference
2013 Abilene Christian Lone Star (Div. II) Southland (2014–2020) WAC (2021–present) [3] [4]
1987–1991 Arkansas State Southland Division I-A Independent (1992) Sun Belt (2001–present) [N 1]
1997–2000 Austin Peay Ohio Valley [N 2] Pioneer Football League (2001–2005)
2006Pioneer Football LeagueOhio Valley (2007–present)
1978–1985 Bucknell Division II Independent Patriot League (1986–present) [N 3]
1993–1998 Buffalo Division III Independent Mid-American Conference (1999–present) [N 4]
1996–2003 Cal Poly American West Great West (2004–2011) [N 5] Big Sky (2012–present)
2001 Cal State Northridge Big Sky Dropped football
2006 Central Arkansas Gulf South (Div. II) Southland (2007–2020) WAC (2021) [7]
ASUN (2022–future) [N 6]
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) [N 7]
2016 Coastal Carolina Big South Sun Belt (2017–present) [N 8]
1982–1985 Colgate Division I-A Independent Patriot League (1986–present) [N 3]
1989 Davidson Colonial League [N 3] Division III Independent (1990–1992)
1993–2000Division III Independent Pioneer Football League (2001–present)
1980–1985 Delaware Division II Independent Yankee Conference (1986–1996) CAA Football (2007–present) [N 9] [N 10]
2020 Dixie State RMAC (Division II) WAC (2021–present) [N 11]
1993 Duquesne Division III Independent MAAC (1994–2007) Northeast (2008–present)
2015 East Tennessee State No football program [N 12] Southern (2016–present) [N 13]
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 [N 14] MEAC (1988–2003, 2005–2020) SWAC (2021–present)
2004 MEAC [N 15] 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) [N 3]
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) [N 16]
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) [N 17] [N 10]
1978–1985 Lafayette Division II Independent Patriot League (1986–present) [N 3]
1987–1989 Lamar Southland Dropped program (1989–2009) [8]
2010No football program Southland (2011–2020) [8] WAC (2021–present) [3] [4]
1997–1998 La Salle No football program (1942–1996) MAAC (1999–2007)Dropped football
1978–1985 Lehigh Division II Independent Patriot League (1986–present) [N 3]
1988–2001 Liberty Division II Independent Big South (2002–2017) [N 18] Division I FBS independent (2018–present) [N 19]
1987–1988 Louisiana Tech Southland Division I-A Independent (1989–1992) C–USA (2013–present)
1993 Marist Liberty Football Conference MAAC (1994–2007)
2008MAAC Pioneer Football League (2009–present)
1994–1995 Monmouth Unclassified Independent Northeast (1996–2012)
2013Northeast 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)
1987–1990Gulf Star Southland (1991–present)
2018 North Alabama Gulf South (Div. II) Big South (2019–2021)
ASUN (2022–future) [N 6]
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)
2013CAA 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) [N 10]
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) [N 20]
1997–2000 South Florida No football program Division I-A Independent (2001–2002) American (2013–present) [N 21]
1980–1983 Southeastern Louisiana Division II Independent Gulf Star (1984–1985) Southland (2005–present)
2003–2004No football program [N 22] Southland (2005–present)
1996–2003 Southern Utah American West Great West (2004–2011) [N 5] Big Sky (2012–2021)
WAC (2022–future) [3]
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) [N 11]
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) [N 23]
1993–1995 Troy Division II Independent Southland (1996–2000)
2001Southland Division I-A Independent (2002–2003) Sun Belt (2004–present) [N 24]
1993–1995 UAB Division III Independent Division I-A Independent (1996–1998) C–USA (2017–present) [N 25]
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 [N 16] Sun Belt (2009–2013) C–USA (2014–present)
1982–1992 William & Mary Division I-A Independent Yankee Conference (1993–1996) CAA Football (2007–present) [N 17] [N 10]
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) [N 16]

See also

Notes

  1. Arkansas State has been a full Sun Belt member since 1991, but the conference did not sponsor football until 2001.
  2. Austin Peay only departed OVC football; it remained a full but non-football member before returning to OVC football in 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 The conference now known as the Patriot League began in 1986 as the football-only Colonial League. It adopted its current name in 1990, when it became an all-sports conference.
  4. Buffalo became a full member of the MAC in 1998, but was not a football member until 1999.
  5. 1 2 The Great West Conference began in 2004 as the Great West Football Conference. It became an all-sports conference in 2008.
  6. 1 2 The ASUN will sponsor football in 2022, but without a timetable on when conference competition is to begin.
  7. Charlotte's second and current stint as a Conference USA member began in 2013, the same time that it began its football program. The football team completed its FBS transition in 2015 and joined C-USA football at that time.
  8. Coastal Carolina joined the Sun Belt Conference as a full but non-football member in 2016, and joined Sun Belt football in 2017.
  9. Delaware has been a full CAA member since 2001. However, the CAA did not sponsor football until 2007, when it effectively took over the football league previously sponsored by the Atlantic 10 Conference (A10).
  10. 1 2 3 4 The CAA football conference is the direct successor of both the Yankee Conference and A10 football conference. The football-only Yankee Conference was absorbed by the A10 after the 1996 season. After the 2006 season, the A10 dropped football after all of its football members joined the newly formed CAA football conference. The Yankee Conference's automatic bid to the I-AA/FCS playoffs passed in succession to the A10 and CAA.
  11. 1 2 While Dixie State and Tarleton will play in the WAC in the fall 2021 season, their games will not count in conference standings.
  12. ETSU resurrected its football program, dormant since the end of the 2003 season, in 2015, playing that season as an independent before joining Southern Conference football in 2016.
  13. ETSU, which had previously been a Southern Conference member from 1978 to 2005, rejoined the SoCon in 2014, initially as a non-football member.
  14. Florida A&M was a member of the MEAC in 1986 & 1987, but games played did not count as conference games.
  15. Florida A&M was a member of the MEAC in 2004, but games played did not count as conference games
  16. 1 2 3 The MVFC did not adopt its current name until 2008. Before then, it was known as the Gateway Collegiate Athletic Conference (1982–1993) and Gateway Football Conference (1993–2008).
  17. 1 2 James Madison and William & Mary have been CAA members since the conference's establishment in 1979. However, the CAA did not sponsor football until 2007, when it effectively took over the football league previously sponsored by the Atlantic 10 Conference (A10).
  18. Liberty became a full member of the Big South in 1991, remaining a member until joining the non-football ASUN Conference in 2018, but the Big South did not sponsor football until 2002.
  19. Liberty began a transition to FBS in the 2017 season, and became a full FBS member in 2019.
  20. South Alabama has been a Sun Belt member from the conference's creation in 1976. However, the Sun Belt did not sponsor football until 2001. South Alabama did not start a football program until 2009, and did not play Sun Belt football until 2012.
  21. The original Big East Conference split into the football-sponsoring American Athletic Conference and a new non-football Big East Conference in 2013. South Florida remained with the FBS schools in The American.
  22. Southeastern Louisiana dropped football after the 1985 season.
  23. Towson was a CAA member at the conference's formation in 1979, but left in 1981; after having been a member of four other conferences, it rejoined the CAA in 2001. However, the CAA did not sponsor football until 2007, when it effectively took over the football league previously sponsored by the Atlantic 10 Conference (A10).
  24. Troy joined the Sun Belt for football in 2004, and became an all-sports member in 2005.
  25. UAB joined Conference USA in 1995, but did not join for football until 1999. The school dropped football after the 2014 season, but reinstated the sport in 2017, remaining a C-USA member throughout its football hiatus.

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2010–2013 Sun Belt Conference realignment

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2020–21 NCAA Division I FCS football season American college football season

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References

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  2. "Valparaiso's Washington, San Diego's Glajchen Highlight 2020-21 PFL Major Award Recipients" (Press release). Pioneer Football League. April 26, 2021. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "WAC Announces Expansion, Plans to Reinstate Football" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  4. 1 2 3 Blum, Sam (January 14, 2021). "As WAC announces addition of 5 schools, Frisco-based Southland Conference left in no man's land". The Dallas Morning News . Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  5. "WAC Announces Expedited Entrance for Four Texas Institutions" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  6. "Big South Announces Football 2021 Spring Schedule" (Press release). Big South Conference. November 9, 2020. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  7. Jeyarajah, Shehan (January 28, 2021). "Report: Three schools to join WAC football for 2021 season only". Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
  8. 1 2 "Lamar Football 2012 Info Guide" (PDF). Lamar University Department of Athletics. p. 101. Retrieved March 30, 2015.