Idaho makes bold move of dropping to FCS level starting in 2018


The Idaho Vandals, citing the economic strain of being a program at the FBS level, will drop down and play in the FCS as part of the Big Sky Conference.

Since major college football split into two subdivisions (Division 1 and Division 1-A) before the start of the 1978 season, 28 programs have made the jump from the lower level (now called FCS) to the upper level (now referred to as the FBS).

At the same time, four FBS schools have discontinued their programs from playing football all together over the last nearly four decades, while no school has made the move down from the FBS to the FCS … until now.

In a move that had been discussed for a while, the Idaho Vandals will move down to the lower level and compete in the Big Sky Conference starting with the 2018 season. The decision comes, in part, after the Sun Belt Conference voted to remove both Idaho and New Mexico State from their league.

Idaho officials admit that, while football is important, money played a major role in the move:

"“I know many passionate Vandals view football’s place in the FBS as a mark of our institution’s ‘prestige’ and ‘relevance.’ But we consider prestige and relevance in an institution-wide context,” UI president Chuck Staben said in a portion of his statement.“Success on the football field will complement UI’s prestige and relevance, but we will be defined by our individual and societal impact, measured by the entire student body experience, including our student-athletes; our academic excellence; our research, scholarly and creative success; and our deep engagement with communities across the state. Providing the best student experience for all students, across all aspects of university life is our responsibility and privilege.”"

Idaho moved from the Big Sky and FCS football to the FBS level before the 1996 season, and has spent time as a member of the Big West, the WAC, two stints in the Sun Belt and one season as an independent. Since moving up, the Vandals have had just four winning seasons and made a bowl game twice, going a combined 9-50 over the past five years.

Idaho and New Mexico State joined the Sun Belt Conference after spending one season as an independent following the WAC’s decision to eliminate football. The conference voted to not renew a contract with either school after their current deals expire following the 2017 football season.

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