FCS Conference Membership Changes in 2024

May 7, 2024 by Staff

(NOTE: This article was updated for news regarding Delaware and Richmond in 2025)

The FCS increases its membership in 2024 by a net of one team to 129 schools as two move in from D2 and one moves up to the FBS.

There is also movement within the conferences as seven schools have changed places.

Plus, Delaware will be ineligible for a conference title or the FCS playoffs once the transition process begins in 2024 as the Blue Hens get ready to exit the CAA and the FCS for the FBS in 2025. Missouri State is also moving to the FBS in 2025 but will be eligible for the Missouri Valley Conference regular and postseason championships for the 2024 season.

The two schools moving up from D2 are Mercyhurst and West Georgia. Mercyhurst of Erie, Pennsylvania leaves the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and becomes a member of the Northeast Conference (NEC). West Georgia, based in Carrollton (west of Atlanta) joins the UAC.

Kennesaw State moves to CUSA in the FBS, just 9 years after playing their first college football game. The Owls played seven seasons in the Big South before migrating to the ASUN in 2022. They spent the 2023 season tackling an independent schedule, but held no official membership in either the FCS or FBS as they began their transition to the FBS.

By moving in to the FBS with Conference USA, Kennesaw State becomes the third former FCS school to do so in the last two seasons. Sam Houston and Jacksonville State made that move a year ago. Kennesaw State's addition to the FBS lineup puts the number of major college football programs at 134.

Meanwhile, Bryant joins the Coastal Athletic Conference (CAA), formerly known as the Colonial Athletic Association before changing its name last season. The CAA is one of the powerhouse conferences in the FCS and has the largest membership with 15 schools. Bryant was a member of the Big South in 2022 and the Big South/Ohio Valley Conference (BS/OVC) alliance in 2023. The Bulldogs, based in the Providence, Rhode Island suburb of Smithfield, previously competed in the Northeast Conference (NEC). The school began playing football in 1999.

Speaking of the NEC, that conference loses two schools as Merrimack and Sacred Heart have opted to compete as the only Independent programs in the FCS. Robert Morris joins the NEC after leaving the BS/OVC Alliance. The Colonials of Moon Township, Pennsylvania (northwest of Pittsburgh), began the football program in 1994.

Western Illinois enters the BS/OVC after playing in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) since 1985 a one of the charter members.

To sum it up:

- the NEC loses Merrimack and Sacred Heart, but gains Merceyhurst (d2) and Robert Morris.

- the BS/OVC loses Bryant and Robert Morris, but gains Western Illinois.

- the CAA gains Bryant. Delaware games will still count in the CAA standings, though the Blue Hens will be ineligible for the CAA or FCS titles.

- the independent ranks lose Kennesaw State, but gain Merrimack and Sacred Heart.

- the MVFC loses Western Illinois and adds no one.

- The UAC gains West Georgia (D2).

Here are the lineups of each conference:

Big Sky (Unchanged, 12 members):
Cal Poly
Eastern Washington
Idaho
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado
Portland State
Sacramento State
UC Davis
Weber State

BS/OVC Football Association (2 out, 1 in, 9 members):
Charleston Southern
Eastern Illinois
Gardner-Webb
Lindenwood
Southeast Missouri
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech
Tennessee-Martin
Western Illinois

CAA (1 in, 1 ineligible, 15 eligible members):
Albany
Bryant
Campbell
Delaware (ineligible)
Elon
Hampton
Maine
Monmouth
New Hampshire
North Carolina A&T
Rhode Island
Richmond
Stony Brook
Towson
Villanova
William & Mary

Ivy (Unchanged, 8 members):
Brown
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Penn
Princeton
Yale

MEAC (Unchanged, 6 members):
Delaware State
Howard
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina Central
South Carolina State

MVFC (1 out, 0 in, 11 members):
Illinois State
Indiana State
Missouri State
Murray State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Northern Iowa
South Dakota
South Dakota State
Southern Illinois
Youngstown State

NEC (2 out, 2 in, 8 members):
CCSU
Duquesne
LIU
Mercyhurst
Robert Morris
Saint Francis (PA)
Stonehill
Wagner

Patriot (Unchanged, 7 members):
Bucknell
Colgate
Fordham
Georgetown
Holy Cross
Lafayette
Lehigh

Pioneer (Unchanged, 11 members):
Butler
Davidson
Dayton
Drake
Marist
Morehead State
Presbyterian
San Diego
St. Thomas (MN)
Stetson
Valparaiso

SoCon (Unchanged, 9 members):
Chattanooga
ETSU
Furman
Mercer
Samford
The Citadel
VMI
Western Carolina
Wofford

Southland (Unchanged, 8 members):
Houston Christian
Incarnate Word
Lamar
McNeese
Nicholls
Northwestern State (La.)
SE Louisiana
Texas A&M-Commerce

SWAC (unchanged, 12 members):
Alabama A&M
Alabama State
Alcorn State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M
Grambling State
Jackson State
Mississippi Valley State
Prairie View A&M
Southern
Texas Southern

UAC (ASUN/WAC Alliance, 1 in, 0 out, 10 members)
Abilene Christian
Austin Peay
Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky
North Alabama
Southern Utah
Stephen F. Austin
Tarleton State
Utah Tech
West Georgia

Independent (1 out, 2 in, 2 members):
Merrimack
Sacred Heart