Liberty University's football program will become the 129th team to be part of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The small non-profit Christian university in Virginia has played football since 1973 and moved up from NAIA to Division II to Division I-AA up until 2016. "It is exciting to watch the fulfillment of that dream taking shape as Liberty now has the financial resources, facilities, academic support and athletics professionals necessary to move forward".
Liberty had recently tried unsuccessfully to gain membership to the Sun Belt, so it is expected the Flames will initially opt to be an FBS independent during the two-year reclassification process that will begin with the 2018 season and include three FBS home games.
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Big South member Liberty has chose to leave the FCS and become an FBS independent. "We are deeply grateful to NCAA leadership and staff for considering this request and for acknowledging Liberty's readiness and the appropriateness of Liberty now moving to FBS football status as an independent", said Liberty President Jerry Falwell.
But since announcing almost five years ago its desire to leave the Football Championship Subdivision, Liberty received no invitation, even though the school had extensive discussions with the Sun Belt Conference and also approached Conference USA.
They have had some decent success at the FCS level by winning a few Big South Conference Championships but they had only made it to the FCS Playoffs once in the past five years.
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NCAA rules require schools to join an FBS conference in order to move up.
Their on-campus Williams Stadium was renovated to 19,200 capacity in 2010.
The Flames' departure will have the Big South restructuring again. McCaw left Baylor during the recent scandal. ODU played Liberty in 2013, and at the time Monarch officials expressed a willingness to schedule the Flames if they moved up. The athletic department is under new management after they chose to hire former Baylor AD Ian McCaw to the same position.
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