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Power Five conferences

Group of top-level American college football conferences / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Power Five conferences are the five most prominent and highest-earning athletic conferences in college football in the United States. They are part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of NCAA Division I, the highest level of collegiate football in the nation, and are considered the most "elite" conferences within that tier.[1] The Power Five conferences have provided nearly all of the participants in the College Football Playoff since its inception,[note 1] are guaranteed at least one bid to a New Year's Six bowl game, and have been granted autonomy from certain NCAA rules. The Power Five conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Game action between Michigan (in white) and Ohio State, members of the Big Ten, one of the Power Five conferences

The term Power Five is not defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the origin of the term is unknown. It has been used in its current meaning since at least 2006.[2] However, the Power Five conferences are identified individually under NCAA rules as "autonomy conferences," which grants them some independence from standard NCAA rules to provide additional resources for the benefit of student-athletes.[3][note 2] The term is also occasionally used in other college sports, although in many non-football sports, most notably basketball, anywhere from six to ten conferences may be considered "high-major"–the Big East Conference, Atlantic 10 Conference, American Athletic Conference (AAC), Mountain West Conference, and West Coast Conference, in addition to the Power Five football conferences.[citation needed]

The Power Five conferences make up five of the ten conferences in FBS; the other FBS conferences are informally known as the Group of Five—the AAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference (MAC), and the Sun Belt Conference.[4] The FBS consists of the Power Five, the Group of Five, and a small number of independent schools (among those schools long-time independents Army and Notre Dame, along with other schools that typically stay independent for a few years before moving to a conference). Prior to the establishment of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the Power Five conferences, as well as the old Big East Conference, were called Automatic Qualifying (AQ) conferences, because the champion of each conference received an automatic berth in one of the five Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl games. The final college football season for which the BCS was in effect was the 2013 season. With the split of the old Big East in 2013, there are now five "power," or top-tier, conferences.

As of the start of the 2023–24 school year, only three of the soon-to-be seventy Power Five conference schools have never won a consensus national championship in any of the team sports—Kansas State of the Big 12, Virginia Tech of the ACC, and UCF of the Big 12.[5]

Amid the broader early-2020s NCAA conference realignment, it remains to be seen if the Pac-12 Conference remains part of the Power Five, as ten of that conference's 12 current schools plan to move to other Power Five conferences before the 2024–25 school year.[6]