2023 CAA Football

Delaware Blue Hens Football Leaving CAA For FBS, Conference USA

Delaware Blue Hens Football Leaving CAA For FBS, Conference USA

The University of Delaware football program will move to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2025, signaling its departure from the CAA.

Nov 28, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
Delaware Blue Hens Football Leaving CAA For FBS, Conference USA

University of Delaware administration announced on Tuesday, Nov. 28, that the school's athletic program will leave the Coastal Athletic Association at the completion of the 2024-25 academic calendar year. 

A move to the Football Bowl Subdivision spurred the move, as Delaware will join Conference USA. CUSA is home to a variety of programs that transitioned from the Football Championship Subdivision in recent years: Liberty (2017); Jacksonville State and Sam Houston (2023); and beginning with the 2024 football season, Kennesaw State. 

Delaware is the third program to have won an FCS/Div. I-AA national championship to join Conference USA. Western Kentucky claimed the 2002 title, and current UD coach Ryan Carty was on the staff of the spring 2021 season national champions at Sam Houston. 

Current Bearkats coach K.C. Keeler led Delaware to the 2003 championship. 

Following his team's 36-34 win over Lafayette in the 1st Round of the 2023 FCS Playoffs, and as rumors swirled of an impending announcement, Carty said, "You never know when  your last run at anything's going to be. We have to treat everything like it's the most important time we're doing so, whether that's Monday night practice, Tuesday night practice as we're going into the next two days, this playoff game [at Montana], we get an opportunity to go out there and have a ton of fun in a great environment." 

"That's what FCS football's all about," he added. 

On the 20-year anniversary of Delaware winning the NCAA Div. I-AA national championship, the Blue Hens have their final opportunity to add another title before making the move. NCAA bylaws prevent programs moving up from participating in the Playoffs. 

The Blue Hens will participate in the 2024 CAA football season, with their games counting toward the championship race. Likewise, Delaware players will be eligible for CAA Player of the Week and Player of the Year recognition. 

"We would like to thank the University of Delaware for its contributions to the CAA and CAA Football Conference, and wish its student-athletes, coaches and administrators all the best during the transition process," CAA commissioner Joe D'Antonio said in a press release statement.

Delaware becomes the fourth program to move to FBS from CAA Football in the last decade, following Georgia State and Old Dominion in 2013 following brief tenures, and James Madison in 2022

Over the course of the same decade, CAA Football welcomed 2023 co-champion UAlbany (2013), Elon (2014), Hampton and Monmouth (2022), Campbell and North Carolina A&T (2023), and Bryant joins in 2024. Stony Brook, a football-only member beginning in 2012, transitioned to full-time CAA membership last academic year. 

"Both [the CAA and CAA Football] remain very strong and committed to working together to advance nationally competitive college athletic programs coupled with outstanding academic programs," D'Antonio said in his statement.  "Going forward both entities continue to be focused on making decisions that ensure a sustainable and competitive model that will allow its members to thrive within the challenges of the ever-changing Division I landscape."