New FCS affiliations in 2019
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - Two conferences will grow and five teams will be on the move for the 2019 FCS season.
Long Island University and Merrimack College will move into the Northeast Conference and Hampton and North Alabama will become Big South Conference members. Also, Savannah State will depart the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and drop back to the Division II level.
In the NEC, LIU will be part of the standings and eligible for the conference title, making it eight teams deep in 2019, but Merrimack won't be part of the standings until it plays a full conference schedule, which won't be this year.
LIU's move is part of an athletic merger between its Brooklyn (Division I) and Post (Division II) campuses. Brooklyn doesn't have a football team, but Post does, going 10-1 last season - unbeaten in the regular season before falling to Slippery Rock in the first round of the D-II playoffs.
Merrimack's Division I transition will last through the 2022-23 academic year. The school is attempting to have an NEC schedule in 2020.
Hampton and North Alabama finished 7-3 as FCS independents last season, although both faced five opponents below the Division I level. Hampton was in a transition from the MEAC and UNA was in its first season of a move up from D-II.
The Big South will have eight members for the first time, although for only one season. UNA will not be eligible for the title, but it will be counted as a conference opponent and have a conference record. Hampton will be eligible for the conference title and FCS playoffs.
The MEAC will be at nine members with Savannah State dropping from Division I back to D-II.
As for future moves previously announced:
- Presbyterian will play one final season in the Big South in 2019, compete as an independent in 2020 and then join the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League in 2021;
- North Dakota will join the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020 following one more season as an independent, but playing a Big Sky schedule;
- Dixie State will move up one level to Division I in 2020 as a Western Athletic Conference member, with its football program set to compete as an FCS independent.
Updated January 17, 2019