2023 Football

NCAA may soon make it tougher for an HBCU to go FBS

The NCAA is looking to up its requirements to be an FBS member. There are two numbers that will make it harder for HBCUs to make that jump.

Potential new rules for Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) membership have been revealed, and if passed, would provide a significant hurdle for many if not all HBCU programs looking to make the jump up. 

If adopted, all FBS schools would be required to provide 90 percent of the total number of allowable scholarships over a two-year rolling period across at least 16 sports, including football. 

These requirements would take effect Aug. 1, 2027, for existing FBS members and for schools already transitioning to FBS membership.  Moving forward, for schools applying to transition to FBS beginning in 2024-25 and thereafter, the requirements would have to be met by the end of the two-year transition process. Schools also would be required to offer at least 210 scholarships each year, amounting to no less than $6 million in athletics scholarships offered.

If these requirements are adopted, previously existing requirements for football attendance at FBS schools would be removed, effective immediately.

“These requirements will directly benefit college athletes competing in Division I sports by requiring significant investment in scholarship opportunities,” said Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference and vice chair of the Division I Council. “Over the past several years, the NCAA’s collected data about spending at FBS schools indicate that these requirements are reasonable and attainable for the majority of impacted athletics programs.”

The council also introduced new legislation that would increase the fee to transition from FCS to FBS from $5,000 to $5 million. If adopted, the change would be effective immediately for schools initiating the transition process from that point forward. The fee would be reassessed regularly.

It would also increase the fee to move up from $5,000 to $5 million.

South Carolina State, NC Central
South Carolina State and North Carolina Central would have to bump up their scholarship dollars significantly to move to the FBS if a new resolution passes.

So what does this have to do with HBCU football programs?

Currently, there are no HBCUs in the FBS. Tennessee State was temporarily a member of Division I-A in the late 1970s. Florida A&M briefly made an attempt to move to up to that level in 2004 but only lasted one year. 

None of the current 21 HBCUs at the FCS level have attempted to move up to college football’s highest tier, but there has been speculation and talk of a program or programs moving up.

These new requirements would appear to make a potential move that much harder for those who had some ambition.

The fee increase of $5 million dollars would account for more than one-third of the entire athletic budget of most of the 23 HBCU football programs currently in the FCS, according to the most recent revenue report by USA Today.

As for the requirement of $6 million in scholarships, no HBCU is currently within $1 million of that figure. Morgan State University of the MEAC is the closest with scholarship funding of $4.97 million. Six other schools — Norfolk State, Alabama State, Florida A&M, Texas Southern, Delaware State and NC A&T — are within the $4 million range. Six schools are currently funding between $3 to $4 million in scholarships. Five HBCUs are funding less than $3 million dollars and two of them — Mississippi Valley State University and Alcorn State University — are funding less than $2 million in scholarships. 

Below are the scholarship totals for HBCUs according to the USA Today report: 

Mississippi Valley State — $1.18 million
Alcorn State — $1.97 million
South Carolina State — $2.36 million 
Arkansas Pine-Bluff — $2.6 million
Grambling State — $2.9 million
NC Central — $3.27 million
Tennessee State — $3.41 million
Jackson State — $3.42 million
Prairie View A&M — $3.47 million 
Southern — $3.57 million
Alabama A&M — $3.77 million
Norfolk State — $4 million
Alabama State — $4.09 million
Florida A&M — $4.27 million
Texas Southern — $4.42 million
North Carolina A&T — $4.6 million
Delaware State — $4.94 million
Morgan State — $4.97 million

The NCAA also added health requirements for FBS program’s as well. Read more about them here.

NCAA may soon make it tougher for an HBCU to go FBS
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