FCS conference plans for spring 2021 season

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – FCS conferences are developing plans to play their 2020 schedule during the spring semester if health conditions are deemed safe.

All 13 conferences opted not to play their league schedules this fall due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NCAA has approved an FCS spring playoff that is reduced from 24 schools to 16. Pairings will be announced on April 18 and four rounds of games will begin the following weekend and continue through a championship over the May 14-16 weekend.

The FCS conferences that have released a spring plan:

BIG SKY CONFERENCE

– Six-game conference-only schedule, beginning Feb. 27 and ending April 10.

– Schedule includes 12 of 13 teams because Sacramento State is not planning to participate in spring season.

– The schedule maintains key rivalry matchups and bus trips to help reduce travel.

BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE

– Four-game conference schedule, beginning March 13 and ending April 10, with up to four non-conference games, which can precede the conference schedule (Campbell, Hampton and North Alabama not planning to participate in spring season).

– Robert Morris has been granted early membership to the Big South and will be one five teams competing in the spring schedule, eligible for both the conference championship and automatic qualifier to the playoffs.

CAA FOOTBALL

– Six-game conference schedule, beginning March 6 and ending April 17, with up to two non-conference games, which can precede conference the schedule (Towson not planning to participate in spring season).

– North Division teams will face each other once: UAlbany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook and Villanova. South Division teams will play each other twice in a home-and-home series: Elon, James Madison, Richmond and William & Mary.

– The team with best conference record earns automatic qualifier to the playoffs. A tiebreaker will be instituted if divisional champs have the same conference record.

INDEPENDENTS

– New FCS members Tarleton and Dixie State have announced eight and six games, respectively, including a home-and-home series against each other and an FBS matchup at New Mexico State. Tarleton kicks off its Division I era on Feb. 13 against McNeese and Dixie State will do the same when it visits Tarleton on Feb. 27.

– Merrimack is expected to be involved in the yet-to-be-announced Northeast Conference schedule.

IVY LEAGUE

– No spring football season.

– Undergraduates are granted a fifth year of eligibility.

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

– Six-game divisional schedule, beginning Feb. 20 and ending April 10, but the plan was announced before Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M opted not to participate in spring season. A new schedule is expected to be released in December.

– Northern Division teams: Delaware State, Howard, Morgan State and Norfolk State; Southern Division: North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.

– Division champions to meet in a first-ever conference championship game on April 17. The winner will earn an AQ to the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2014.

MISSOURI VALLEY FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

– Eight-game conference-only schedule, beginning Feb. 19 and ending April 17.

– Scheduling model has a “Southern Start,” with early games played either at domes or institutions in the southern-most part of the MVFC footprint.

OHIO VALLEY CONFERENCE

– Seven-game conference schedule, beginning Feb. 21 and ending April 11 (Eastern Kentucky not planning to participate in spring season). Option to play one non-conference game on Feb. 13 or 14.

– Conference games will be played on Sundays except for Saturday during Easter weekend.

PIONEER FOOTBALL LEAGUE

– Six-game conference schedule, beginning March 13 and ending April 17, and including incoming member Presbyterian as a 10th team.

– Team are permitted to schedule nonconference games at institutional discretion.

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE

– Eight-game conference schedule, beginning Feb. 20 and ending April 17.

– The Citadel played four fall games, but was granted an NCAA waiver to play 12 regular-season games in an 11-game academic year, and is eligible for the SoCon title after originally being deemed ineligible by the conference.

SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE

– Six-game conference schedule, beginning Feb. 20 and ending April 10 (Abilene Christian, Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist and Stephen F. Austin not planning to participate in spring season).

– Schools have option to play up to two non-conference games.

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

– Six-game conference schedule, beginning Feb. 26 and ending April 24, with four opponents within the division and two in the other division.

– Schools can play one non-conference game (can be a matchup not included in conference schedule).

– Division champs to meet in the conference championship game (at the higher-seeded team) on May 1.

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