(Stats Perform) – The NCAA Board of Directors approved a 16-team spring playoff in FCS college football on Tuesday.
The playoff pairings will be announced on April 18 followed by four rounds of games over the April 24 to May 15 weekends. The national championship game will be held anywhere from May 14-16 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
While the spring playoffs are down from the usual 24 teams, the number of automatic qualifying bids increased to 11 when the NCAA allotted one for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion. That means there will be only five at-large selections.
“We still have to have 50 percent of (FCS) teams competing in the spring,” Montana athletic director Kent Haslem, a member of the Division I championship committee which selects the playoff field, said on the Grizzly athletics “Inside the Den” podcast. “Right now, it looks like that number will be well above it.”
Last month, the MEAC announced it would hold its first conference championship game on May 1, but an automatic bid could mean the league will rework the dates of its spring schedule. The MEAC has yet to announce any changes, a conference spokesman said.
The MEAC relinquished an automatic bid in 2015 when it began to send its conference champ to the Celebration Bowl. North Carolina A&T earned an at-large bid in 2016 as the MEAC’s most recent playoff qualifier.
All 13 FCS conferences postponed their league schedule this fall due to concerns over COVID-19. If health conditions allow for spring competition, the regular season would start as early as Feb. 20 and conclude April 17.
Schools that are playing nonconference games this fall can be considered for the playoff field.
North Dakota State is the three-time defending national champion.