Which Programs Previously Played in the FCS?
It is no surprise that the allure of major college football has caused some teams to try their hand at the FBS level. In some cases, teams have dropped football altogether or dropped to the FCS level. Idaho left the FBS for the FCS after the Sun Belt declined to keep them as a conference member. Dropping to the FCS is a very rare occurrence, but one that made sense for Idaho as they were part of the Big Sky in every other sport but football before the move and was also a Big Sky football member from 1965 through 1995. More recently, Jacksonville announced an immediate shutdown of its football program after the 2019 season.
Below are the teams that used to play in the FCS, but have since moved on to the FBS or shut down their football program. Teams that no longer have a football program are marked with an asterisk. Only two teams on the following list, West Texas A&M and Savannah State participate at a lower division. West Texas A&M is a member of the Lone Star Conference while Savannah State returned to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Both the LSC and SIAC are at the Division II level.
The below list was cultivated from the NCAA’s FCS records handbook and some school records along with secondary sources such as Wikipedia and Sports-Reference. The years may not match the NCAA due to the inclusion of transition years in our records.
Akron is NOT listed in the NCAA Handbook, but the Zips’ own records (page 173) show otherwise from 1980 to 1986. In addition, the NCAA Handbook also had MAC teams listed as FCS teams in 1982 for “reclassification” due to not meeting NCAA requirements. These schools are NOT included in this list as they were in name only. An entire timeline of former FCS teams can be found at the bottom of this page.
* School no longer has a football program
** School participates at the Division II level in football
*** Not officially former full FCS members per the NCAA because they never completed the full transition to FCS status. Texas-San Antonio originally planned to join the FCS before opting to go to the FBS as soon as possible with an offer from the then-FBS Western Athletic Conference (the WAC is now an FCS conference).
**** Winston-Salem State was never a full member of the FCS despite starting and nearly finishing the four-year reclassification process to the MEAC. They decided in the fourth year of the transition to remain at the Division II level.
***** Idaho was a member of the FCS from 1978 through 1995 before joining the FBS beginning with the 1996 season. Idaho rejoined the FCS in 2018 and we list them here for recordkeeping purposes.