- Eight of the 13 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conferences have announced that they won’t play in Fall 2020.
- Under NCAA guidelines, this means that no FCS playoffs will be held.
- There is a possibility of a FCS playoffs held in Spring 2021.
It doesn’t look good for anything approximating ‘business as usual’ in college football this fall. On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference (MAC) became the first FBS conference to announce that it wouldn’t play in Fall 2020. While the MAC decision continues to reverberate across the college football landscape it appears that there will be little or no competition at the second highest level of the sport.
The NCAA Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs will not be held in Fall 2020. Eight of the thirteen FCS conferences will not compete in football this fall and NCAA guidelines mandate that 50% of eligible teams must participate in a regular season for the playoffs to be held. The CAA, Ivy League, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot and SWAC all made announcements last month that they would not play football this fall. The number of teams competing at the FCS level fell below the required threshold on Friday when the Pioneer Football League and Big Sky Conference announced that they wouldn’t play this fall.
The Big South, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland conferences are still considering their options. The Missouri Valley Conference is home to defending FCS champion and legit powerhouse North Dakota State–winner of three straight titles as well as eight of the last nine. Although the Big South has yet to decide on how the conference will proceed two member schools–Hampton and Monmouth–have already indicated that they won’t play this fall regardless. At this point, the number of schools not playing at the FCS level is somewhere around 75 of 127 programs.
On Friday, the Big Sky Conference announced that they would postpone play until the Spring. The Pioneer League has yet to indicate their plans for the spring. Andy Feinstein, chair of the Big Sky Presidents’ Council, explained the conference’s decision:
“The health and safety of our students is our top priority, and ultimately that concern guided our decision-making process over the past few months as we explored every option regarding the 2020 football season. We recognize just how meaningful these opportunities are to the student-athletes, coaches, and staff throughout our conference, and empathize that they won’t be able to compete this fall for a Big Sky championship. We are eager to provide our football programs with that opportunity in the spring when it’s hopefully safer to be able to do so.”
Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill added these comments:
“This is the right decision for our member institutions, even though we realize how disappointing it will be for all who represent and care about Big Sky footbal. We will now shift our attention to doing everything within our power to provide our football student-athletes and coaches with a conference schedule and a championship opportunity in the spring. We already have begun actively engaging our fellow FCS conferences and the NCAA to join us then for what will be a unique opportunity to return to competition and compete for an FCS championship.”
Wistrcill’s comments strongly suggest that a spring 2021 FCS championship is a possibility. The NCAA’s guidance on the topic doesn’t really say much:
According to the NCAA Board of Governors guidelines, if any NCAA division elects to postpone fall sports championships, the decision to conduct the championships at later dates must be based on the scientific data available at that time, as well as an assessment of the operational, logistical and financial impact of proceeding.
In separate press releases on Friday it was announced that the NCAA Division II and Division III football championships would not be played this fall.