NCAA eases rules for bowl eligibility for this season only

College football teams can count two games against qualifying FCS teams toward bowl eligibility during the upcoming season, the NCAA's Division I Council announced Wednesday.

The council approved a blanket waiver request for only the 2020-21 bowl season, which allows all FBS teams to count two games against FCS opponents that average at least 80% of the maximum amount of football scholarships during a two-year period. Previous bowl eligibility rules allowed FBS teams to count one game against an FCS opponent that averaged 90% of the maximum amount of football scholarships during the two-year span.

The adjustment could help FBS teams from leagues that are not playing conference-only schedules, but need to add opponents. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced last week they will play conference-only schedules, although neither league has announced specific schedule details.

Nick Carparelli, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, recently told ESPN that the bowl-eligibility requirement of a .500 record will not change even if the number of games played is reduced during the 2020 season.

"In a season that's scheduled for only 10 games, 5-5 is already bowl-eligible by NCAA rules," Carparelli said.

The council also approved new legislation that would allow athletes who receive need-based financial aid or merit-based awards unrelated to their athletics ability to not count against a team's scholarship limit. The new rule goes into effect Aug. 1.

The NCAA's student-athlete experience committee, which recommended the change, also will conduct a "comprehensive review of financial aid rules," including how scholarships are applied per sport and the roster numbers of each sport.