NCAA Division I independent schools

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In American college sports, NCAA Division I independent schools are four-year institutions that do not belong to a conference for a particular sport.


There is currently one institution listed as Division I Independent in baseball:

Institution Team Location Founded Type Enrollment Primary Conference
NYIT Bears Old Westbury, New York 1955 Private 14,000 East Coast Conference (Div II)


There are no independent programs in NCAA Division I basketball as of the 2016–17 season. The last Division I basketball season to feature an independent program was the 2014–15 season, in which the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) competed as such. The Highlanders were forced into independent status in 2013 with the collapse of their former home of the Great West Conference. NJIT joined the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) in 2015, thus all NCAA Division I basketball teams are part of a conference.


Football Bowl Subdivision[edit]

There are currently four NCAA Division I FBS independent schools.

Institution Founded Nickname First season Location Type Enrollment Primary conference
United States Military Academy
1802 Black Knights 1890 West Point, New York Federal 4,294 Patriot League
Brigham Young University 1875 Cougars 1922 Provo, Utah Private 29,672 West Coast Conference
University of Massachusetts Amherst 1863 Minutemen 1879 Amherst, Massachusetts Public 29,269 Atlantic 10
University of Notre Dame 1842 Fighting Irish 1887 Notre Dame, Indiana Private 12,179 Atlantic Coast Conference
[N 1][1]


  1. ^ Notre Dame remains officially an independent football team, and is not a member of the ACC in any capacity for football. However, as part of the agreement to join the ACC in other sports, Notre Dame agreed to schedule 5 games per year against ACC opponents.

Football Championship Subdivision[edit]

There are no FCS independent schools in the 2017 season. Coastal Carolina, which joined the FBS Sun Belt Conference in 2016 and began a two-year transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision at that time, joined Sun Belt football in 2017. It will be counted as an FBS member for scheduling purposes in 2017, with full FBS membership and bowl eligibility following in 2018.[2]

The next team to play as an FCS independent will be North Alabama, which will play as such in 2018 while its other sports move from Division II to the non-football ASUN. The football team will join the Big South Conference in 2019 under the terms of an alliance between the ASUN and Big South that provides any full member of either conference that sponsors scholarship football with a guaranteed football home in the Big South.[3]

Ice hockey[edit]


There is currently one NCAA Division I independent in men's ice hockey. The Sun Devils moved up from club hockey in the ACHA to full varsity status. Arizona State will start playing a full Division I schedule in 2016–17, and expects to be in a hockey conference for 2017–18.

Institution Team Location Founded Type Enrollment Years Primary Conference
Arizona State University Sun Devils[4] Tempe, Arizona 1885 Public 50,246 2015–present Pac-12 Conference


There is currently one NCAA Division I independent in women's ice hockey. The Sacred Heart Pioneers moved up from Division III (where they were a member of the ECAC East) in 2003. Its men's team plays in Atlantic Hockey, which does not sponsor women's hockey.

Institution Team Location Founded Type Enrollment Years Primary Conference
Sacred Heart University Pioneers[5] Fairfield, Connecticut 1963 Private 7,465 2003–present Northeast Conference



There are no men's soccer independents as of the 2017 season.

The last NCAA men's soccer season which included independent schools was the 2013 season, in which five schools played as independents. All of these schools left the independent ranks after that season. Two of these are now in the Sun Belt Conference, which reinstated men's soccer as a sponsored sport in 2014; a third played in the Sun Belt for two years until joining Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) men's soccer in 2016. At the time the Sun Belt relaunched its men's soccer league, Georgia State University was already a full Sun Belt member, while Howard University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) became Sun Belt affiliates.[6] Howard remains in Sun Belt men's soccer to this day; NJIT joined the ASUN as a full member in 2015, but remained in Sun Belt soccer for the 2015 season to honor its two-year contractual commitment to that league. Belmont University became an affiliate of the Horizon League,[7] and the University of the Incarnate Word became an affiliate of the Western Athletic Conference.[8]


Three schools are independents in women's soccer. The most recent departure from the independent ranks was Kansas State University, which played as an independent in its first season of women's soccer in 2016, and begins play in its all-sports home of the Big 12 Conference in 2017.[9]

Institution Team Location Founded Type Enrollment Primary Conference
Delaware State University Hornets Dover, Delaware 1891 Public 3,400 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Hampton University Lady Pirates Hampton, Virginia 1868 Private 4,500 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
South Carolina State University Lady Bulldogs Orangeburg, South Carolina 1896 Public 3,000 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Notre Dame Goes To ACC: Bowl Security, Football Scheduling Flexibility Key To Move". Sports Business Daily. Street and Smith’s Sports Group. September 13, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Coastal Carolina Announces 2016 Football Schedule" (Press release). Coastal Carolina Athletics. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016. "This is an important year for our program as we start our transition to the FBS," said fifth-year head coach Joe Moglia. "However, we are still an FCS independent this year and have put together a nationally-competitive schedule to reflect that. 
  3. ^ "North Alabama To Join Big South Football in 2019" (Press release). Big South Conference. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Sun Devil Athletics Announces Addition of Men’s Ice Hockey as NCAA Sport" (Press release). Arizona State Athletics. November 18, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Statistics :: History :: Sacred :: Women's Hockey :: :: U.S. College Hockey Online". Retrieved April 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Sun Belt Men's Soccer to Re-Debut in Fall 2014" (Press release). Sun Belt Conference. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Belmont University to Join Horizon League as Affiliate Member" (Press release). Horizon League. April 21, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  8. ^ "UIW Joins WAC as Affiliate Member in Men's Soccer" (Press release). Western Athletic Conference. December 18, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "K-State Soccer Announces 2017 Schedule" (Press release). Kansas State Wildcats. April 10, 2017. Retrieved June 27, 2017.