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NCAA Division I Board of Directors announces championship changes, smaller FCS Playoffs bracket

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Posted at 2:38 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 16:39:16-04

College football teams will face narrower odds to advance to the FCS Playoffs, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors decided Tuesday.

The Board of Directors approved NCAA Division I fall championships to be played in the spring as outlined by the Division I Council.

“The plan sent to us by the Division I Council provides the maximum number of opportunities to fall student-athletes to participate in NCAA championships while still being fiscally responsible,” acting board chair Denise Trauth, president at Texas State, said in a media release. “We look forward to the spring, understanding things will look a little different but knowing the competitions will be just as meaningful as in normal circumstances.”

The changes to the FCS Playoffs include a smaller bracket, which will feature 16 teams instead of the customary 24. There will be 11 automatic qualifiers and five at-large teams.

The reduced bracket could have a direct impact on the Big Sky Conference, which sent four teams to the playoffs in 2019. Weber State (No. 3), Sacramento State (No. 4), Montana State (No. 5) and Montana (No. 6) each received seeds, first-round byes and second-round home games last season. Weber State and Montana State both ultimately advanced to the semifinal round, where both teams saw their seasons end. Weber State lost to James Madison and Montana State lost to eventual champion North Dakota State.

All 13 FCS conferences have postponed their league schedules to the spring of 2021 and will now start determining their conference schedules. The Big Sky Conference remains committed to playing its schedule in the spring, even though other college football conferences, notably the Big Ten, have reversed course after initially postponing their league schedules and now intend to start playing in October.

The bracket for the FCS Playoffs will be announced on April 18. The exact date for the championship is still to be determined, but it will land on May 14, 15 or 16, according to the Board of Directors' release.

The Board of Directors also finalized adjusted championship brackets and dates for men's and women's cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball and men's water polo. To view a table outlining those guidelines, please click here.