FCS playoffs shelved for fall after conferences opt to wait until spring

Will other schools follow UConn's lead and cancel their football season? (1:42)

Paul Finebaum reacts to UConn's decision to cancel the upcoming football and explains why money played a large part. (1:42)

The annual FCS playoffs will not be held this fall, even if some schools play a regular season.

The lower half of Division I college football has fallen short of the NCAA's recent mandate that playoffs would require 50% of eligible teams participate in a regular season,

The number fell below the threshold Friday after both the Pioneer Football League and Big Sky Conference announced they won't have fall competition due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Eight of the 13 FCS conferences aren't playing in the fall, with the CAA, Ivy, MEAC, Northeast, Patriot and SWAC having made announcements last month. The number of schools not playing is nearing 75 out of 127 programs, factoring in a few CAA schools considering independent schedules and Big South members Hampton and Monmouth opting out of playing even if their conference has a regular season.

One of the CAA schools, 2019 national runner-up James Madison, reversed course and ended pursuit of a fall season Friday.

The Big South, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Southern and Southland conferences are still determining their direction. The Missouri Valley is home to North Dakota State, a winner of three straight FCS national titles -- and eight of the past nine.

The NCAA board of directors gave the Division I Council until Aug. 21 to determine the status of playoffs, which have been held annually since 1978. The NCAA expanded them to 24 teams in 2013.

If FCS members wind up shifting their season to the spring semester, it's possible a regular season would lead to playoffs.

"We will now shift our attention to doing everything within our power to provide our football student-athletes and coaches with a conference schedule and a championship [playoff] opportunity in the spring," Big Sky commissioner Tom Wistrcill said. "We already have begun actively engaging our fellow FCS conferences and the NCAA to join us then for what will be a unique opportunity to return to competition and compete for an FCS championship."