Getting a scholarship to play Division I football, the highest level, is the ultimate goal of a college football player. However, most football players don't get to play Division I-A or FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) football. Division I-AA or FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) football is always an option. Division I-AA football is located in all geographical regions of the USA.
About Division I-AA schools
The Division I-AA or FCS division is a lower level of Division I football. There are 124 schools in I-AA that offer scholarships to athletes. Division I-AA schools are allowed to offer 63 scholarships to potential football players. These 124 schools are divided into 16 conferences. Sixteen of the 124 qualify for the FCS Football Championship. However, in past years, six such conferences, the Northeast, Ivy League, Southwestern Athletic, Great West and Pioneer League, were not invited to the FCS Championship.
New FCS Tournament rules for 2010
Starting in 2010, the Division I-AA tournament has expanded to 20 teams with automatic berths coming from 10 conferences. This improves the profile of Division I-AA and allowed the Northeast an automatic bid into the tournament. The Pioneer Football League and Great West may also have invitations to the tournament if they meet certain criteria. The Ivy League and Southwest Conference both still abstain.
How scholarships are divided
The NCAA funds Division I-AA to award 63 scholarships to football players. However, to keep Division I status, schools must have 76.5 football players on scholarship. Therefore, many Division I-AA college football players receive partial instead of full scholarships. Most I-AA schools divide their 63 scholarships amongst 85 football players to fill out an active roster
How Division I-AA scholarships are earned
The most talented players in high school football from the best high schools often get to go to FBS programs. However, Division I-AA talent is very good and the sport is played at a high level. Numerous FCS football players go to the NFL every year, so to be eligible for a Division I-AA scholarship, you must be a top-notch high school football player with a tremendous work ethic.
Some Division I-AA schools do not offer scholarships. The Ivy League does not award athletic scholarships in any sport. As always, be sure to check with school administration before trying to get a football scholarship. Sending out recruiting tapes and information about yourself is essential to getting a football scholarship at any level.
- Photo Credit empty football field. image by Tom Oliveira from Fotolia.com
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