August 4, 2006

NCAA Mandates New Subdivisions For Division I Football

Aug. 4, 2006

The NCAA News

INDIANAPOLIS - During its summer meetings on Thursday, the NCAA Division I of Directors approved new labels for Division I football. The presidents approved a change in terminology to "Football Bowl Subdivision" for the former I-A classification and "NCAA Football Championship Subdivision" for the former I-AA group. The Collegiate Commissioners Association helped develop the new labels.

The presidents believe the new nomenclature, which becomes effective in December, more accurately distinguishes Division I institutions for purposes of governing football, the only sport for which such a distinction is necessary. Members felt the old nomenclature inaccurately tiered Division I institutions in all sports, not just football, and produced instances in which media outlets and other entities incorrectly cited institutions as being Division I-AA in basketball or baseball, for example.

"All Division I institutions, regardless of whether they sponsor football, are in fact and should be referred to as Division I members," said Board Chair and University of Connecticut President Philip Austin. "The only reasons for labeling are the need to distinguish the two football subdivisions for the purpose of governing the sport and to maintain separate statistics. The Board is stressing that the nomenclature reflect the totality of the Division I membership whenever possible and that the subdivision labels be used sparingly. Still, there are instances in which we need to use them, and we feel the new labels are more accurate."

The new nomenclature does not effect the voting structure used in Division I governance matters.


  • Northern Colorado is the only college team in the state of Colorado that plays for a Division I Football Championship sponsored by the NCAA. The BCS National Championship is not officially recognized by the NCAA.

  • Northern Colorado will be eligible to compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoffs beginning in 2007.

  • The Bears play for the highest level of football national championships sponsored by the NCAA.

  • The Big Sky Conference champion receives an automatic bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Since 1995, at least one Big Sky team has received an at-large bid to the playoffs, except in 1998. The most Big Sky teams in the playoffs in that period is three. In 2003, Montana State won the conference for the automatic bid, while Montana and Northern Arizona each gained at-large bids.

  • Northern Colorado won back-to-back Division II national championships in 1996 and 1997.