google.com, pub-2952063874047980, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0
top of page

NCAA Conference Realignment

In a whirlwind of conference realignment, the NCAA has transformed from a neatly organized puzzle into a wild game of musical chairs for universities. Schools are switching conferences faster than a toddler swaps toys, and traditional rivalries are becoming as rare as a unicorn on campus. It's a chaotic dance of rivalries reborn, alliances shattered, and an endless game of "Where's Waldo?" for your favorite team's new home. As we navigate this ever-shifting landscape, one thing's for sure: the only thing consistent about college sports these days is the unpredictability. So, put on your seatbelts, folks; we're in for one heck of a rollercoaster ride through the ever-evolving world of NCAA conference realignment!

In 1978, schools were split into Division 1, Division 1-A and Division I-AA, eventually renamed FBS and FCS - and for that reason we started in 1978.

1978 Conferences

"Power 5"
  • ACC: Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest

  • Big Eight (currently Big 12): Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

  • Big Ten: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin

  • Pac-10: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington State

  • SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

Others

  • Ivy: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale

  • MAC: Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan

  • Missouri Valley: Drake, Indiana State, New Mexico State, Southern Illinois, Tulsa, West Texas State, Wichita State

  • Pacific Coast: Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Pacific (CA), San Jose State, Utah State

  • Southern: Appalachian State, Chattanooga, Furman, Marshall, The Citadel, VMI, Western Carolina

  • Southland: Arkansas State, Lamar, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Southwestern Louisiana, Texas-Arlington

  • Southwest: Arkansas, Baylor, Houston, Rice, SMU, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

  • WAC: BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Utah, UTEP, Wyoming

  • Independents: Air Force, Army, Boston College, Cincinnati, Colgate, East Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Hawai’i, Holy Cross, Illinois State, Louisville, Memphis State, Miami (FL), Navy, North Texas State, Northeast Louisiana, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Rutgers, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Syracuse, Temple, Tulane, UNLV, Villanova, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, William & Mary

1979
  • East Tennessee moved from the Ohio Valley (I-AA) to the Southern Conference.

  • Hawaii ended its independence and joined the WAC.

1980
  • Air Force ended its independence and joined the WAC.

1981
  • Illinois State ended its independence and joined the Missouri Valley.

1982
  • The Ivy League, Southern Conference, and Southland Conference dropped to the I-AA level.

    • Southwestern Louisiana left the Southland to remain in I-A as an independent.

  • UNLV ended its independence and joined the Pacific Coast.

1983
  • Georgia Tech, already a member of the ACC in all other sports, ended its football independence to become a full member of the ACC.

1984
  • New Mexico State left the Missouri Valley to join the Pacific Coast.

1986
  • The Missouri Valley ended its hybrid league of both I-A and I-AA programs.

    • Tulsa and Wichita State left the conference to become I-A Independent.

    • Northern Illinois left the MAC to become Independent.

1987
  • Akron left the Ohio Valley (I-AA) to become I-A Independent.

1988
  • The Pacific Coast Athletic Association changed its name to the Big West Conference.

1991
  • The Big East began sponsoring football, ending independence for Boston College, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Virginia Tech, West Virginia.

1992
  • Florida State, already a member of the ACC in all other sports, ended its football independence to become a full member of the ACC.

  • Arkansas joins the SEC leaving the Southwest and South Carolina ends its independence and joins the SEC.

  • Akron ended its independence and joined the MAC.

  • Arkansas State upgraded from I-AA to I-A, remaining an Independent.

1993
  • The Big West lost Cal State Fullerton, who dropped their program, but added four independents: Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois, Southwestern Louisiana.

  • Penn State ended its independence and joined the Big Ten

1994
  • Northeast Louisiana left the Southland (I-AA) to become a I-A Independent.

1995
  • North Texas left the Southland (I-AA) to become a I-A Independent.

1996
  • The Big 12 began its first season after merging the Big Eight with four members of the former Southwest (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech).

  • Conference USA began its first season after merging two previously non-football conferences: the Metro Conference and the Great Midwest Conference. This new league included former Southwest member Houston and five former independents: Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulane.

  • The WAC added former Southwest members Rice, SMU, TCU, while also taking San Jose State and UNLV from the Big West.

  • Tulsa ended its independence and joined the WAC.

  • The Big West lost Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois, Southwestern Louisiana, all of whom became I-A Independent programs. The league added Boise State (I-AA Big Sky), Idaho (I-AA Big Sky), and North Texas (I-A Independent).

  • UAB and UCF upgraded from I-AA Independent to become I-A Independent.

  • Pacific (Big West) dropped its football program.

1997
  • The MAC added Marshall (I-AA Southern) and Northern Illinois (I-A Independent).

  • East Carolina ended its independence and joined Conference USA.

1998
  • Army ended its independence to join Conference USA.

1999
  • Eight former members of the WAC form the Mountain West Conference: Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, Wyoming.

  • Arkansas State ended its independence and joined the Big West.

  • UAB ended its independence to join Conference USA.

  • Two schools moved up from I-AA to I-A: Middle Tennessee from the Ohio Valley to independence and Buffalo from independence to the MAC.

2000
  • Nevada left the Big West to join the WAC.

  • Two programs upgraded from I-AA Independent to I-A Independent: UConn and South Florida.

2001
  • The Big West stopped sponsoring football. As such, its remaining football-playing members departed for the WAC (Boise State), the Sun Belt (Arkansas State, New Mexico State, North Texas), or independence (Utah State).

  • The Sun Belt began sponsoring football. With the addition of the former Big West programs, Idaho joined the league as a football-only member. Louisiana–Lafayette, Louisiana–Monroe, Middle Tennessee ended their independence to join the Sun Belt.

  • The WAC lost TCU to Conference USA but added formerly independent Louisiana Tech.

  • Troy State upgraded from I-AA Independent to I-A Independent.

2002
    • UCF ended its independence to join the MAC.

2003
  • South Florida ended its independence to join Conference USA.

  • Utah State ended its independence to join the Sun Belt.

2004
  • The Big East lost Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC and added formerly independent UConn.

  • Troy State ended its independence and joined the Sun Belt.

  • Florida Atlantic and Florida International upgraded from I-AA Independent to I-A Independent.

2005
  • Temple (expelled from Big East) and Army (left Conference USA) both became Independent.

  • The Big East also lost Boston College to the ACC and added Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida from Conference USA.

  • TCU left Conference USA to join the Mountain West.

  • Conference USA added Marshall and UCF from the MAC and Rice, SMU, Tulsa, UTEP from the WAC.

  • The WAC added Idaho, New Mexico, State Utah State from the Sun Belt Conference.

  • The Sun Belt added formerly independents Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

2007
  • Temple ended its independence to join the MAC.

2008
  • Western Kentucky upgraded from FCS Independent to FBS Independent.

2009
  • Western Kentucky ended its independence and joined the Sun Belt.

2011
  • The Pac-10 becomes the Pac-12 with the additions of Colorado (Big 12) and Utah (Mountain West).

  • The Big 12 loses Nebraska to the Big Ten. The Mountain West also loses BYU, who becomes an FBS Independent.

  • Boise State leaves the WAC to join the Mountain West.

2012
  • The Big 12 loses Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and adds TCU (Mountain West) and West Virginia (Big East).

  • The Mountain West adds former WAC programs Fresno State, Hawai’i, Nevada. The Big East adds Temple from the MAC.

  • The MAC adds former Colonial(FCS) member UMass.

  • The WAC adds former FCS programs Texas State (Southland) and UTSA (Independent).

  • South Alabama ends its FCS independence to join the Sun Belt.

2013
  • The Big East lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. With those losses, the league experienced a split between its FBS and non-FBS schools. After the “Catholic 7” took the Big East name, the remaining schools were reorganized as The American. Along with members Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, Temple, UConn, the American also added former Conference USA programs, Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF.

  • Conference USA added former Sun Belt members Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, as well as former WAC members Louisiana Tech and UTSA.

  • The WAC discontinued sponsoring football. Idaho and New Mexico State became FBS Independents. San Jose State and Utah State both joined the Mountain West. Texas State joined the Sun Belt.

  • Georgia State upgraded from the Colonial (FCS) to the Sun Belt.

2014
  • The Big Ten added Maryland (ACC) and Rutgers (The American/Big East).

  • The ACC added Louisville from The American.

  • The American added former Conference USA members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa.

  • Conference USA added Old Dominion (FCS Independent) and Western Kentucky (Sun Belt).

  • The Sun Belt added Appalachian State and Georgia Southern from the Southern Conference (FCS). Idaho and New Mexico State ended their independence to join the Sun Belt.

2015
  • Charlotte ended its FCS independence to join Conference USA.

  • Navy ended its independence to join The American.

  • UAB (Conference USA) shut down its football program.

2016
  • UMass left the MAC to become Independent.

2017
  • UAB restarted its football program in Conference USA.

  • Coastal Carolina upgraded from FCS Independent to the Sun Belt.

2018
  • The Sun Belt lost Idaho (FCS Big Sky) and New Mexico State (Independent).

  • Liberty upgraded from the Big South (FCS) to become an FBS Independent.

2020
  • UConn left The American to become Independent.

2022
  • The Sun Belt added Marshall, Old Dominion, Southern Miss from Conference USA and James Madison from the Colonial (FCS).

2023
  • The Big 12 added American programs Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF, as well as Independent BYU.

  • The American added Conference USA programs Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, UTSA.

  • Conference USA added FCS programs Jacksonville State (ASUN) and Sam Houston (WAC), as well as independents Liberty and New Mexico State.

2024
  • ACC added Cal and Stanford (Pac 12) and SMU (American).

  • Big Ten added Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington (Pac 12).

  • Big 12 added Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah (Pac 12)

  • SEC added Oklahoma and Texas (Big 12)

  • American (AAC) added Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, UTSA (Conference USA)..

  • Conference USA adds Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State, Sam Houston.

Current (2024) Conferences

"Power 4"
  • ACC: Boston College, Cal, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

  • Big 12: Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, UCF, Utah, West Virginia

  • Big Ten: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wisconsin

  • SEC: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

Others

  • American: Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Navy, North Texas, Rice, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTSA

  • Conference USA: FIU, Jacksonville State, Kennesaw State, Liberty, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Sam Houston, UTEP, Western Kentucky, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UAB, UTSA

  • MAC: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan

  • Mountain West: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawai’i, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming

  • Pac-12: Oregon State, Washington State

  • Sun Belt: Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison, Louisiana, Louisiana–Monroe, Marshall, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State, Troy

  • Independents: Army, Notre Dame, UConn, UMass

bottom of page
google.com, pub-2952063874047980, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0