History of Conference Realignment

July 1 marks the day that conference realignment changes for the upcoming year takes affect. Here are the changes affecting FBS football for the 2023 season:

American Athletic Conference (AAC)
- Has a net gain of three teams to have 14 members for 2023
- Losing Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston to the Big 12
- Adding Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and Texas-San Antonio from Conference USA

Big 12
- Expanding from 10 teams to 14 teams
- Adding BYU from the Independent ranks
- Adding Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida from the American Athletic Conference

Conference USA
- Lost Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and Texas-San Antonio to the AAC
- Lost Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi to the Sun Belt
- Added Liberty and New Mexico State from the Independent ranks
- Added Sam Houston State and Jacksonville State from FCS
- C-USA drops from 11 teams to 9 teams

Independents
- Lost BYU to the Big 12
- Lost Liberty and New Mexico State to C-USA
- Leaves just four Independent FBS programs for 2023

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Full FBS Conference Membership for 2023

AAC (14)
Alabama-Birmingham
Charlotte
East Carolina
Florida Atlantic
Memphis
Navy
North Texas
Rice
South Florida
Southern Methodist
Temple
Texas-San Antonio
Tulane
Tulsa

ACC (14)
Boston College
Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Louisville
Miami (FL)
North Carolina
North Carolina State
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

Big 12 (14)
Baylor
BYU
Central Florida
Cincinnati
Houston
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
TCU
Texas
Texas Tech
West Virginia

C-USA (9)
Florida International
Jacksonville State
Liberty
Louisiana Tech
Middle Tennessee State
New Mexico State
Sam Houston State
Texas-El Paso
Western Kentucky

Independents (4)
Army
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Notre Dame

Mid-American Conference (12)
Akron
Ball State
Bowling Green
Buffalo
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Kent State
Miami (OH)
Northern Illinois
Ohio
Toledo
Western Michigan

Mountain West (12)
Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Diego State
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

Pac-12 (12)
Arizona
Arizona State
California
Colorado
Oregon
Oregon State
Stanford
UCLA
USC
Utah
Washington
Washington State

SEC (14)
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
LSU
Mississippi
Mississippi State
Missouri
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas A&M
Vanderbilt

Sun Belt (14)
Appalachian State
Arkansas State
Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern
Georgia State
James Madison
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Marshall
Old Dominion
South Alabama
Southern Mississippi
Texas State
Troy
 
FCS football conference changes:

- Jacksonville State leaves the Atlantic Sun to move to FBS and join CUSA

- Sam Houston State leaves the WAC to move to FBS and join CUSA

- Kennesaw State is in a transition year to FBS (will join CUSA in 2024) and are leaving the Atlantic Sun and will play as an FCS independent in 2023

- Campbell and North Carolina A&T are leaving the Big South to join the CAA, growing that league to 15 members

- Murray State is leaving the Ohio Valley Conference for the Missouri Valley Football Conference, giving the MVFC 12 members

- The Big South and Ohio Valley Conferences are merging into a ten-team league for football

- The Atlantic Sun and WAC are fully merging in football and rebranding as the United Athletic Conference

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2023 FCS Conference Makeup

Big Sky (12)

Cal Poly
Eastern Washington
Idaho
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado
Portland State
Sacramento State
UC-Davis
Weber State

Big South-Ohio Valley Conference (10)
Bryant
Charleston Southern
Eastern Illinois
Gardner-Webb
Lindenwood
Robert Morris
Southeast Missouri State
Tennessee-Martin
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech

Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) (15)
Albany
Campbell
Delaware
Elon
Hampton
Maine
Monmouth
New Hampshire
North Carolina A&T
Rhode Island
Richmond
Stony Brook
Towson
Villanova
William & Mary

Independents (1)
Kennesaw State

Ivy League (8)
Brown
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Pennsylvania
Princeton
Yale

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) (6)
Delaware State
Howard
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina Central
South Carolina State

Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) (12)
Illinois State
Indiana State
Missouri State
Murray State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Northern Iowa
South Dakota
South Dakota State
Southern Illinois
Western Illinois
Youngstown State

Northeast Conference (NEC) (8)
Central Connecticut State
Duquesne
Long Island
Merrimack
Sacred Heart
St. Francis
Stonehill
Wagner

Patriot League (7)
Bucknell
Colgate
Fordham
Georgetown
Holy Cross
Lafayette
Lehigh

Pioneer Football League (11)
Butler
Davidson
Dayton
Drake
Marist
Morehead State
Presbyterian
San Diego
St. Thomas
Stetson
Valparaiso

Southern Conference (SoCon) (9)
East Tennessee State
Furman
Mercer
Samford
Tennessee-Chattanooga
The Citadel
Virginia Military Institute
Western Carolina
Wofford

Southland Conference (8)
Houston Christian
Incarnate Word
Lamar
McNeese State
Nicholls State
Northwestern State
Southeastern Louisiana
Texas A&M-Commerce

Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) (12)
Alabama A&M
Alabama State
Alcorn State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M
Grambling State
Jackson State
Mississippi Valley State
Prairie View A&M
Southern
Texas Southern

United Athletic Conference (9)
Abilene Christian
Austin Peay
Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky
North Alabama
Southern Utah
Stephen F. Austin
Tarleton State
Utah Tech
 

Delaware will reportedly become the first school to pay the $5 million application fee to move from the FCS to FBS and will join Conference USA in the 2025-26 season, per Brett McMurphy of the Action Network.
The application fee to move up to the top level of college football was previously $5,000.
 

Massachusetts will join the Mid-American Conference in all sports in the 2025-26 academic year.

Currently UMass competes as an FBS Independent in football and in the Atlantic-10 in most other sports. UMass previously was a football-only member of the MAC from 2011 through 2015. The MAC will now have 13 members.
 
Well....it's "Conference Realignment Day" and 2024 is a big one with several significant changes. Here are the FBS moves: (some will not take effect until August 2)

AAC
- Army is leaving the ranks of the Independents to join the American Athletic Conference in football. The league also lost Southern Methodist who left to join the ACC. The American will have 14 members.

ACC
- Southern Methodist is leaving the American Athletic Conference to join the ACC, while California and Stanford leave the Pac-12 to join the ACC. The ACC will now have 17 members in football (18 in other sports)

Big 12
- Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. The Big 12 will have 16 members.

Big Ten
- Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington join from the Pac-12 to give the Big Ten 18 members.

Conference USA
- CUSA expands to 10 members with the addition of Kennesaw State from the FCS ranks.

Independents
- With the loss of Army to the AAC, there remain just three FBS Independents.

MAC
- no changes in 2024

Mountain West
- no changes in 2024

Pac-12
- The Pac-12 loses 10 members: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah joined the Big 12; Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington joined the Big Ten; California and Stanford joined the ACC. The league is left with just two members.

SEC
- Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12 to join the SEC and give the league 16 members.

Sun Belt
- no changes in 2024

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Full FBS Conference Membership for 2024

AAC (14)
Alabama-Birmingham
Army
Charlotte
East Carolina
Florida Atlantic
Memphis
Navy
North Texas
Rice
South Florida
Temple
Texas-San Antonio
Tulane
Tulsa

ACC (17)
Boston College
California
Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Louisville
Miami (FL)
North Carolina
North Carolina State
Pittsburgh
Southern Methodist
Stanford
Syracuse
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest

Big 12 (16)
Arizona
Arizona State
Baylor
Brigham Young
Central Florida
Cincinnati
Colorado
Houston
Iowa State
Kansas
Kansas State
Oklahoma State
TCU
Texas Tech
Utah
West Virginia

Big Ten (18)
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Maryland
Michigan
Michigan State
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern
Ohio State
Oregon
Penn State
Purdue
Rutgers
UCLA
USC
Washington
Wisconsin

C-USA (10)
Florida International
Jacksonville State
Kennesaw State
Liberty
Louisiana Tech
Middle Tennessee State
New Mexico State
Sam Houston State
Texas-El Paso
Western Kentucky

Independents (3)
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Notre Dame

Mid-American Conference (12)
Akron
Ball State
Bowling Green
Buffalo
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Kent State
Miami (OH)
Northern Illinois
Ohio
Toledo
Western Michigan

Mountain West (12)
Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
Fresno State
Hawaii
Nevada
New Mexico
San Diego State
San Jose State
UNLV
Utah State
Wyoming

Pac-12 (2)
Oregon State
Washington State

SEC (16)
Alabama
Arkansas
Auburn
Florida
Georgia
Kentucky
LSU
Mississippi
Mississippi State
Missouri
Oklahoma
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Texas A&M
Vanderbilt

Sun Belt (14)
Appalachian State
Arkansas State
Coastal Carolina
Georgia Southern
Georgia State
James Madison
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Marshall
Old Dominion
South Alabama
Southern Mississippi
Texas State
Troy
 
FCS changes that will take effect today:

Big Sky
- No changes in 2024

Big South-Ohio Valley Conference Football Association
- Bryant leaves for the CAA
- Robert Morris leaves the association for the Northeast Conference
- Western Illinois joins the Ohio Valley Conference and the Big South-OVC after having left the Missouri Valley Football Conference
- The Big South-OVC is left with nine members

CAA
- Bryant leaves the Big South-OVC Association to become the 16th member

Independents
- Kennesaw State leaves to move up to Division I and joins Conference USA
- Merrimack and Sacred Heart join from the Northeast Conference, giving FCS two Independents in 2024

Ivy League
- No changes in 2024

MEAC
- No changes in 2024

Missouri Valley Football Conference
- Membership drops to 11 after Western Illinois leaves to join the Big South-OVC

Northeast Conference
- Robert Morris joins from the Big South-OVC while Mercyhurst moves up from Division II.
- Merrimack and Sacred Heart leave the league to become Independents, leaving the conference with eight members.

Patriot League
- No changes in 2024

Pioneer Football League
- No changes in 2024

SoCon
- No changes in 2024 for the Southern Conference

Southland Conference
- Stephen F. Austin joins from the United Athletic Conference, giving the league nine members.

SWAC
- No changes in 2024 for the Southwestern Athletic Conference

United Athletic Conference
- West Georgia moves up from Division II to join the league
- Stephen F. Austin leaves to return to the Southland Conference.
- The UAC remains at nine members.

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Full FCS conference membership for 2024-25 season

Big Sky (12)
Cal Poly
Eastern Washington
Idaho
Idaho State
Montana
Montana State
Northern Arizona
Northern Colorado
Portland State
Sacramento State
UC-Davis
Weber State

Big South-Ohio Valley Conference (9)
Charleston Southern
Eastern Illinois
Gardner-Webb
Lindenwood
Southeast Missouri State
Tennessee-Martin
Tennessee State
Tennessee Tech
Western Illinois

Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) (16)
Albany
Bryant
Campbell
Delaware
Elon
Hampton
Maine
Monmouth
New Hampshire
North Carolina A&T
Rhode Island
Richmond
Stony Brook
Towson
Villanova
William & Mary

Independents (2)
Merrimack
Sacred Heart

Ivy League (8)
Brown
Columbia
Cornell
Dartmouth
Harvard
Pennsylvania
Princeton
Yale

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) (6)
Delaware State
Howard
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina Central
South Carolina State

Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) (11)
Illinois State
Indiana State
Missouri State
Murray State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Northern Iowa
South Dakota
South Dakota State
Southern Illinois
Youngstown State

Northeast Conference (NEC) (8)
Central Connecticut State
Duquesne
Long Island
Mercyhurst
Robert Morris
St. Francis
Stonehill
Wagner

Patriot League (7)
Bucknell
Colgate
Fordham
Georgetown
Holy Cross
Lafayette
Lehigh

Pioneer Football League (11)
Butler
Davidson
Dayton
Drake
Marist
Morehead State
Presbyterian
San Diego
St. Thomas
Stetson
Valparaiso

Southern Conference (SoCon) (9)
East Tennessee State
Furman
Mercer
Samford
Tennessee-Chattanooga
The Citadel
Virginia Military Institute
Western Carolina
Wofford

Southland Conference (9)
Houston Christian
Incarnate Word
Lamar
McNeese State
Nicholls State
Northwestern State
Southeastern Louisiana
Stephen F. Austin
Texas A&M-Commerce

Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) (12)
Alabama A&M
Alabama State
Alcorn State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M
Grambling State
Jackson State
Mississippi Valley State
Prairie View A&M
Southern
Texas Southern

United Athletic Conference (9)
Abilene Christian
Austin Peay
Central Arkansas
Eastern Kentucky
North Alabama
Southern Utah
Tarleton State
Utah Tech
West Georgia
 
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