The NCAA has adopted a new set of Division 1 membership requirements that will have an impact on future realignment changes at the Football Bowl Subdivision level as well as impacts on current FBS teams.
The NCAA has increased the application fee from $5,000 to $5,000,000 million. On top of that, the NCAA will require all FBS programs to provide a minimum of 90% of the total allowable scholarships for 16 sports. The NCAA has stipulated that each FBS school has to fund a minimum of 210 scholarships that must total at least $6 million annually.
The increased application amount takes effect immediately while the scholarship minimums will become effective with the 2027-28 season. The NCAA originally proposed these changes back in June but the intention is clear: schools will have to pay up early and often if they want to join the FBS.
As noted by Fear The FCS, the scholarship amount change will have a longer-lasting impact as the new amount represents a $2 million increase for as long as a team remains in the FBS. The NCAA is essentially trying to keep FCS teams from moving up if they’re underfunded and possibly trying to force some lower-end FBS teams to drop down to the FCS.
There have been several schools rumored to be looking at the FBS including Delaware and the oft-mentioned North Dakota State among others. Ultimately, this move feels like it’s directed mostly at the United Athletic Conference, which previously wanted to join the FBS as a football-only conference. By setting the bar incredibly high for all schools it will cause only those truly dedicated to an FBS future to pay the higher fees.
At least the NCAA eliminated the attendance requirement. Perhaps they should have removed the draconian bowl ineligibility rule for new FBS teams too. If they’re going to make new teams pay to join the FBS, they ought to give them a fair chance on the field. But this is the NCAA we’re talking about so it’s unreasonable to expect sensible outcomes.
Photo courtesy of Delaware Athletics