Liberty University Football Team Approved to Join FBS

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2017

Footballs sit on the field before an NCAA college football game between Memphis and Houston Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Liberty University's football program will become the 129th team to be part of the Football Bowl Subdivision. 

Per an official release from Liberty's athletic website, the Flames' FBS reclassification will begin during the 2017-18 academic year before competing as an FBS independent in 2018 and becoming bowl-eligible in 2019. 

The NCAA approved Liberty's waiver that was submitted in January, a long process that was talked about by university president Jerry Falwell Jr. back in 2012. 

"Competing at the highest levels of collegiate competition has been the vision for Liberty University since its founding in 1971," Falwell said in a university statement. "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."

Per the release issued on Thursday, the NCAA granted Liberty's request to move to FBS by "providing substantial information demonstrating its readiness to begin the reclassification process, Liberty's ability to follow current FBS institutions who have demonstrated viability without a conference affiliation and the university's ability to satisfy FBS requirements."

Falwell issued a statement expressing his excitement for the program included in the release. 

"Today is truly historic for Liberty University," he said. "This university aspired to compete at the highest levels of NCAA competition and began working toward that dream and vision from the day of its founding in 1971. 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."

Liberty's football program was established in 1973 and competed in the NAIA for eight seasons before moving up to Division II and later Division I-AA before it was reclassified as the Football Championship Subdivision in 2006. The Flames won eight Big South Conference championships from 2007-16.