Photo courtesy of Sam Houston State Athletics
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
(Sports Network) - The possible expansion of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs by 2013 continues to move downfield.
The playoffs will remain at 20 teams in 2012 for the third straight season, but FCS schools are hoping to have a 24-team field in place for 2013.
An FCS working group, comprised mostly of university presidents and athletic director and conference commissioners, recently made the recommendation of a 24-team field to the NCAA.
The expansion proposal is being reviewed by an NCAA finance committee. Once it passes that stage, it can be sent to the executive committee for possible approval.
A formal decision is expected in August.
"We feel like it has pretty good support at the highest levels of NCAA leadership," said Big South Conference commissioner Kyle Kallander, the chair of FCS commissioners who helped champion the proposal.
"We are aware of issues that you need to address whenever you do this, including if we're going to expand the FCS championship, then there has to be some consideration for equity and what we're doing with women's championships. That's part of the conversation and the budget discussions as well."
Potential expansion appeared to be supported by NCAA president Mark Emmert during the first week of January at the FCS championship in Frisco, Texas.
A 24-team field would provide an automatic bid to the Pioneer Football League champion and provide three more at-large bids. Currently, 10 conferences have auto bids - but not the PFL - and there are 10 at-large bids.
Only eight teams would be seeded in the 24-team field, which would help ensure more geographic matchups in early rounds.
"We felt good about the process and about the chances of that receiving ultimate approval," Kallander said.
There will be 124 teams on the FCS level this season. The Ivy League and Southwestern Athletic Conference don't send their champions to the playoffs.