The University of Delaware is set to become the most recent FCS team to leave for the FBS. The Fightin’ Blue Hens will leave the Coastal Athletic Association and join Conference USA beginning with the 2025-26 academic year, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN. Delaware will be considered an FCS independent team for the 2024 season and will not be eligible for the FCS Playoffs.
Delaware’s move will be the fourth involving former FCS teams to join C-USA. Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State made the jump prior to the 2023 season while Kennesaw State is joining in 2024. Delaware will become the 11th member of C-USA (assuming no additional changes) while the CAA will go up to 16 football members in 2024 with Bryant joining and fall back to 15 in 2025.
Delaware has been rumored with a possible move for months and the delay will cost the school a bit more to join the FBS. In October, the NCAA put new requirements in place that increased the FBS application fee to $5 million and increased the annual scholarships amount to $6 million.
The Blue Hens have been one of the better FCS teams with 19 postseason appearances since they joined the FCS level in 1980 (then referred to as the 1-AA). They won the 2003 1-AA National Championship 40-0 over Colgate to finish the season 15-1 and made the title game two more times in 2007 and 2010 but lost both of those appearances.
Despite the national presence in the 2000s, Delaware struggled after 2010 with the National Championship contender architect K.C. Keeler leaving for Sam Houston State after the 2012 season. Delaware had only 1 FCS playoff appearance between 2011 through 2020 and that was a first-round exit in 2018. If Keeler is still coaching SHSU in 2025, he might possibly take on his former program. Delaware has made the FCS Playoffs three times since 2020 and will play at Montana in the second round of the 2023 FCS Playoffs.
Photo Credit to the University of Delaware Athletics