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The CAA is making plans to play a six-game conference schedule that includes the option for institutions to add up to two non-conference contests during the spring 2021 season.
The conference will use a North/South divisional format, with all six league games coming against teams within the division. The team with the best overall conference record will be the conference’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship. Should the divisional champions finish with the same record, a tiebreaking policy will be used to determine the automatic qualifier.
Conference play is anticipated to begin on March 6 and conclude on April 17, with each team receiving a bye week during the seven-week timeframe. Institutions are allowed to schedule “non-conference” games against other conference members, but those games would not count towards the conference standings and the outcome would not be used in the tiebreaking procedures. Based on NCAA guidelines, teams are allowed to begin non-conference competition as early as January 23.
The makeup of the divisions and the final conference schedule will be announced in the next several weeks.
“All of our institutions know that today’s announcement is simply the first step in the planning process associated with playing football on each of our campuses in the Spring,” CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said. “Each member institution, as well as the Conference office, has additional protocols that must be finalized and approved in order to ensure a safe return to the field. Our goal in creating this unique scheduling format was to implement a competitive model while also trying to reduce the risks associated with travel as much as we could.
"It’s been an extremely difficult and challenging time, but it’s nice to be able to give our coaches, student-athletes and fans something to look forward to. Health and safety remain at the forefront of every decision we are making, and we are hopeful about getting the Spring 2021 season underway.”
On July 17, CAA Football announced its decision to suspend conference competition in the fall due to continuing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the conference expressed a strong commitment to conducting a football season in the spring of 2021 and the institution’s athletics directors have worked closely with conference staff to make that happen.
The NCAA Board of Directors recently approved a revised format for the NCAA FCS playoffs, which will feature 16 teams with 11 automatic qualifiers and five at-large berths. The playoffs are set to begin on Saturday, April 24, with a champion being crowned in Frisco, Texas on May 14, 15 or 16.