NCAA Proposes New Requirements for FBS Hopefuls

Editor’s Note: On October 4, 2023, the NCAA formally adopted the requirements outlined below. The application fee increase was effective immediately while the scholarship funding changes will be effective starting in the 2027-28 academic year.

The NCAA has proposed new requirements for schools that would like to move from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The proposals, which will not be voted on until a future date, would have a noticeable impact on current FCS programs.

The most significant changes would require additional staff, an increase in the entry fee paid by schools moving from the FCS to FBS, and a higher minimum for scholarship awards. Currently, FCS programs pay $5,000 to move to the FBS but that number would be raised to $5 million effective immediately upon the proposal’s acceptance. The scholarship awards would increase from the current amount of $4 million (page 421) to $6 million and 210 scholarships a year across a minimum of 16 sports. Currently, FCS schools do not have requirements beyond the Division 1 minimum financial aid requirements that total over $2 million a year.

One part of the proposal that would benefit any future FCS to FBS programs is the removal of the attendance requirement. Currently, FBS schools must average 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for home football games during a rolling two-year period. A change to this requirement would help alleviate the high costs of renovating a facility to meet the 15,000 minimum mark although it may still be prudent to expand stadiums if higher attendances are expected.

The FCS-to-FBS transition fee going up to $5 million is the headline as it would be effective in 2024-25 and apply to any schools that start the transition by that time. A bigger takeaway is the increase in the minimum scholarship amounts. That change alone would increase costs by an additional $2 million each year as opposed to the one-time transition fee that could easily be passed on to the students or a well-targeted donation campaign. Current FCS schools that were on the fence may think twice about any move because the already higher expected costs of moving to the FBS would get even higher.

Photo Courtesy of North Dakota State University Athletics / Tim Sanger

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