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Scaling new heights: Jax State athletics officially FBS program

INDIANAPOLIS – The final season before moving up the ladder in college football has proven to be an omen of good things to come in its outro for Jacksonville State University.

Now, however, the Gamecocks have reached the final rung.

The NCAA formally approved Jax State’s completed transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision Friday, wrapping up a two-year process that saw the Gamecocks move from the Football Championship Subdivision to Conference USA and the highest level of college football.

(Jacksonville State/Facebook)

“We are thrilled to officially close our transition period in FBS competition and are excited about the future of Gamecock football that has already experienced immediate success at the highest level of competition,” Director of Athletics Greg Seitz said. “Our institution as a whole has made an unwavering commitment to place our teams and our student-athletes in the best position possible to achieve success, and that’s a credit to the leadership of President Killingsworth, our Board of Trustees and our coaches and staff.”

Moving has been kind to JSU football:

  • 1992: Won 1992 Division II National Championship before moving up to FCS
  • 2022: Went 9-2 and 5-0 In Atlantic Sun Conference under first-year head coach Rich Rodriquez, but ineligible for FCS playoffs and official ASUN title because of raised scholarship numbers in preparation for move to FBS while in first of required two-year transition to FBS
  • 2023: Went 9-4 and 6-2 as first-year member of Conference USA (CUSA). Ineligible for postseason games while in transition, but awarded spot in the New Orleans Bowl when not enough full members of FBS qualified, then defeated Louisiana 34-31 in overtime 

The program’s historic New Orleans Bowl win capped the 9-4 season, making Jax State just the third team in history to win at least nine games in its first season against an FBS schedule joining Marshall (10 in 1997) and Georgia Southern (nine in 2014). The Gamecocks were on national television a school-record eight times in 2023 and led CUSA in average attendance with 20,033 fans per game at Burgess-Snow Field.

Among financial obligations, Jax State increased its football scholarships from 63 to the FBS mandated limit of 85 and surpassed the requirement of 210 overall student-athlete scholarships.

To help counter the increase in football scholarships, Jax State added women’s bowling as its 18th varsity sport and enjoyed immediate success under head coach Shannon O’Keefe by winning the 2024 NCAA national championship in its first season of competition.

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