College football to have record 778 teams this season

By Kailey Harmon | Posted 7/3/2018

College football is reaching new heights this year with a record 778 schools playing this fall according to data from the National Football Foundation. This includes teams from FBS and FCS, NCAA Division II, Division III, and the NAIA.

There are seven new football programs joining the 2018 season – the most since 12 entered in 2013.

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Here are the seven new schools for the 2018 season:

  • Allen University – NAIA; Columbia, South Carolina
  • Alvernia University – Division III; Reading, Pennsylvania
  • Indiana Wesleyan University – NAIA; Marion, Indiana
  • Keiser University – NAIA; West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Lawrence Technological University – NAIA; Southfield, Michigan
  • Ottowa University-Arizona – NAIA; Surprise, Arizona
  • University of New England – Division III; Biddeford, Maine

Since 1978, college football has gained 135 programs. The numbers will continue to rise in 2019 and 2020 with an additional four more programs joining. Those four include:

  • Clarke University – NAIA; Dubuque, Iowa
  • Franklin Pierce University – Division II; Rindge, New Hampshire
  • Wheeling Jesuit University – Division II; Wheeling, West Virginia
  • Barton College – Division II; Wilson, North Carolina (2020)
  • Keystone College – Division III; La Plume, Pennsylvania (2020)

With the rising number in football programs, there are also programs dropping out. According to NBC Sports, 35 new teams have started, and 11 schools have dropped football in the past six years. Many factors contribute to the stability of a program, including the local community, popularity among students, alumni and if it’s fitted to provide advertisement for the university.

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There’s always a financial risk that comes with starting a football program, making it difficult for universities to determine if the investment will be worthwhile in the end. Barton College president Dr. Douglas N. Searcy thinks its program, that will be launched in 2019, will be successful.

 “We know that we also have to make choices institutionally that will continue to expand our footprint and provide new and exciting opportunities for our students as well as positively engage our friends and partners in the community,” Searcy said. “Bringing football to campus is exactly that kind of bold choice. Football will undoubtedly create a tremendous surge of energy and enthusiasm among students, as well as faculty, staff, alumni and the Wilson community.”

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