College football teams can count two games against qualifying FCS teams toward bowl eligibility during the upcoming season, the NCAA's Division I Council announced Wednesday.
The council approved a blanket waiver request for only the 2020-21 bowl season, which allows all FBS teams to count two games against FCS opponents that average at least 80% of the maximum amount of football scholarships during a two-year period. Previous bowl eligibility rules allowed FBS teams to count one game against an FCS opponent that averaged 90% of the maximum amount of football scholarships during the two-year span.
The adjustment could help FBS teams from leagues that are not playing conference-only schedules, but need to add opponents. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced last week they will play conference-only schedules, although neither league has announced specific schedule details.
Nick Carparelli, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, recently told ESPN that the bowl-eligibility requirement of a .500 record will not change even if the number of games played is reduced during the 2020 season.
"In a season that's scheduled for only 10 games, 5-5 is already bowl-eligible by NCAA rules," Carparelli said.
The council also approved new legislation that would allow athletes who receive need-based financial aid or merit-based awards unrelated to their athletics ability to not count against a team's scholarship limit. The new rule goes into effect Aug. 1.
The NCAA's student-athlete experience committee, which recommended the change, also will conduct a "comprehensive review of financial aid rules," including how scholarships are applied per sport and the roster numbers of each sport.