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Delaware's Jump to C-USA and What it Means for the FCS

The Blue Hens will play their last season as an FCS member in 2024.

Delaware v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

This week is a busy one for Delaware. The Blue Hens are in the midst of preparations for their second-round playoff matchup with Montana on Saturday night. That seemed like it would be the biggest thing going on around the program but on Monday morning some national news broke that has the school looking ahead to even bigger things. In 2025 Delaware will be heading to the FBS and joining Conference USA.

The move is one that will leave another crater in the FCS landscape but is certainly one that should benefit the Hens. Delaware has been a blue blood in the subdivision for quite some time and their absence will leave a pocket on the east coast akin to that of what James Madison left behind two years ago.

The program is a current member of the Coastal Athletic Association, the FCS' biggest conference. Delaware's departure will bring the league's membership down to 14 teams. Beyond the numbers, though, the CAA will be losing one of its more decorated schools, again, similar to when JMU left.

Delaware has been an FCS program since 1980 and, in that span, has participated in three national championships, winning one in 2003. The Blue Hens have qualified for the postseason 18 times and have won two conference titles since 2007. The Hens have an overall FCS playoff record of 25-17.

Delaware joins the likes of other former FCS powers to join C-USA in recent years including Sam Houston and Jacksonville State who played their first FBS season this year and Kennesaw State who will do so next fall.

Delaware will be subject to restrictions and fees once the announcement becomes official. For starters the athletic department will need to shell out $5 million as a transition fee. The NCAA recently changed that number from the $5,000 that was required before. The Blue Hens will also be unable to compete in the FCS playoffs next season per NCAA transition rules. Several of the aforementioned teams were subject to the same restrictions during their respective moves.

While this is a notable loss for the CAA and the subdivision as a whole from a historical standpoint, the sky is not necessarily falling on the FCS. New members are planned to join up over the next couple years. Division II’s West Georgia is set to begin its transition next fall as a member of the United Athletic Conference and Texas-Rio Grande Valley is on track to play its inaugural season in the WAC the same year the Hens officially move up.