The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) highlighted today that five new college football programs will take the field for the first time this season, increasing the number of schools among all NCAA divisions, the NAIA and independents offering football to 774, an all-time high.
Since 1978 when the NCAA changed its method for tracking attendance figures, the number of schools playing NCAA football (FBS, FCS, DII and DII) has steadily increased by 179 schools from 484 in 1978 to a record high of 666 in 2015 or an average increase of 4.9 schools per year. With the addition of the NAIA and independent schools playing football and the schools across all levels of play who have announced the addition of programs in the coming years, the number of colleges and universities now offering football has been increased to the all-time high 774.
In the past four seasons alone (2011-15), 36 football programs have been added at NCAA, NAIA or independent institutions. All 774 schools will be represented on the three-story helmet wall, presented by Southwest Airlines, at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Numbers reflect schools playing football at all levels of the NCAA (FBS, FCS, DII and DII). Excludes NAIA and independents.
The planning and preparation of five programs will come to fruition as they begin intercollegiate play this fall: Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, Ohio; Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill.; the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas; and the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla.
Universities and colleges are adding football at all levels, and administrators have developed sound plans, ensuring the new programs address the unique financial, academic and long-term objectives of their respective schools. The 66 institutions listed below, who have implemented firm plans during the past few years, coupled together with the more than 20 schools with exploratory committees, create a clear and undeniable trend that presidents and trustees nationwide see the value of a football program as part of their overall academic mission.
“No other sport contributes more to the vibrancy of a college campus than football, and we are very pleased to highlight those schools that have added our great game,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “University and college presidents clearly see the value of having programs on their campuses, and we applaud them for understanding the role football can play in the educational experience of all their students.”