Posted: Apr 3, 2013 8:23 PM by Jim O'Day - Make it Missoula
Updated: Apr 4, 2013 7:34 AM
MISSOULA - While not overly alarming just yet, the continued exodus of teams from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision is concerning, and could eventually have a dramatic impact on schools such as Montana and Montana State.
Last week, FCS powerhouses Appalachian State and Georgia Southern announced they will be leaving the FCS's Southern Conference for the Football Bowl Subdivision's Sun Belt Conference, effective July 1, 2014. Between the two schools, they have nine FCS/I-AA titles (Georgia Southern with 6; App State with 3). Additional rumor has two more FCS stalwarts, James Madison University and Liberty University, possibly joining App State and Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt. Add in Old Dominion, UMass, Texas State, South Alabama and Texas-San Antonio in recent years, and many mid-major schools are looking at a move up in division for various reasons. Schools officially announcing their change are no longer eligible for the FCS playoffs as they start the process of increasing their 63 football scholarships to the 85 offered at the FBS level. Idaho and New Mexico State will also join the Sun Belt as associate members for football only.
Without a doubt, those in charge at the NCAA are quietly concerned. Some of these schools have been premiere leaders amongst the FCS ranks over the years. They have also accounted for significant revenues to help offset costs of the FCS playoffs. While these moves were not totally unexpected, and had been rumored for months, there is speculation that others may still follow... but again, those are strictly rumors at this point.