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By AMY BETH HANSON Associated Press Writer
HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- The committee that manages the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs has endorsed a plan to move the FCS title game to early January when the playoff field expands from 16 to 20 teams next season.
The NCAA Board of Directors is scheduled to vote on the proposal later this week in Indianapolis.
The proposal came about as the FCS tried to develop a schedule for a 20-team playoff to follow the 2010 season, Big Sky Conference Commissioner Doug Fullerton said Tuesday.
The 20-team playoff "really tightens up the regular season," Fullerton said. He said the committee first considered shortening the regular season and starting the playoffs a week earlier.
But he said some schools argued that they did not want to lose the option of having a bye week.
Those schools asked the FCS committee to ask host Chattanooga, Tenn., and broadcaster ESPN if any other weekends would work.
"ESPN came back to us with a very intriguing offer," Fullerton said. "They want to hold the championship the night before the (Bowl Championship Subdivision) championship," and offered more television coverage of other playoff games.
Chattanooga was also interested in the idea, he said.
"I would say the Big Sky is still skeptical about the proposal," Fullerton said.
The FCS has four members on the NCAA Board of Directors and one represents the Big Sky, he said.
"We could probably vote to block it, but we're not inclined to use our vote that way," Fullerton said. "With four of us representing the entire FCS, we've got to have a better perspective of what the FCS wants."
University of Montana athletics director Jim O'Day could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Fullerton said O'Day was one of the FCS committee members who voted against moving the championship game in January.
"He knows what that would mean," Fullerton said, speaking of extending the football season by three weeks, keeping players on campus over the holiday break and re-certifying the academic eligibility of players in the title game.
The upside of the plan includes more television exposure for the FCS while still allowing teams the option of a bye week during the regular season.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)