The Hawaii Exemption – 2013 Edition

By Kevin Kelley -

The Hawaii Exemption, as it’s commonly known, is a rule enacted by the NCAA that allows Division I football teams that play at Hawaii to schedule a 13th regular-season game. The rule also allows the Rainbow Warriors to play an extra game each season.

The addition of the 13th game, usually a home game, means extra revenue for those teams which is used to offset travel costs. But he teams involved are not obligated to schedule the extra game.

For the second year in a row, Hawaii has opted to only play 12 games. The last time Hawaii went two consecutive seasons without playing a 13th regular-season game was 2004 and 2005.

Of Hawaii’s 12 games scheduled in 2013, six are at home. Listed below are each of their home opponents and their own “Hawaii Exemption” status:

  • USC (13 games) – The Trojans have used the Hawaii Exemption to schedule a 13th game. USC also faces Boston College, Utah State, and Notre Dame in non-conference play.
  • Fresno State (12 games) – The Bulldogs opted not to schedule a 13th game and instead will have two open dates in 2013.
  • San Jose State (12 games) – The Spartans opted not to schedule a 13th game and instead will have two open dates in 2013.
  • Colorado State (13 games) – The Rams have used the rule to schedule a 13th game. Colorado State also plays non-conference games vs. Colorado, Tulsa, Cal Poly, Alabama, and UTEP.
  • San Diego State (12 games) – The Aztecs opted not to schedule a 13th game and instead will have two open dates in 2013.
  • Army (12 games) – The Black Knights opted not to schedule a 13th game. Since they play Navy on Dec. 14, Army will have four open dates in 2013.

The NCAA Bylaws that govern the “Hawaii Exemption” are listed below (NCAA Division I Manual):

17.27.2 Alaska/Hawaii, Additional Football Contest
Member institutions located in Alaska and Hawaii shall be permitted to exceed, by one, the maximum number of football contests permitted under Bylaw but otherwise shall conform to the same maximum number of contests and dates of competition permitted other members of the Association. Annual Exemptions. [FBS/FCS]
The maximum number of football contests shall exclude the following:

(j) Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico. [FBS/FCS]
Any football games played in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico, respectively, either against or under the sponsorship of an active member institution located in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico, by a Division I member institution located outside the area in question.

Football Schedules

Comments (20)

The Colorado State Rams are playing the Colorado Buffalos in their non conference schedule.

I’m confused; is Colorado State using the exception or not?

8 conference games + 4 non-conference games = 12 games

I just want to know: Have any FCS teams ever played 13 regular-season games?

(Lamar used the exemption in 2012, but for a 12th game rather than a 13th because the FCS plays 11 games in 14-week seasons and 12 games in 15-week seasons.)

If it’s happened, it was most likely an HBCU, since many of them forego postseason play for traditional end-of-season games or, in the case of the SWAC, the SWAC Championship Game. Usually most FCS teams don’t plaly more than 11 games because, should they qualify for the playoffs, their slate could potentially swell to 15 games or so. So, if you add Hawaii, an extra game due to Hawaii, and an “end-of-season rivalry”, or a conference championship game, that equals 13. I’m sure it has happened before, but I would think confirmation of that would be anything but straightforward.

I have always assumed this was part of why BYU cancelled the BYU-Hawaii series as well. Once Hawaii was no longer available to play the first week of December, and with BYU having trouble scheduling the last week of November, there is no need to have 13 games to fit into 12 weeks. Better to scrap the weak opponent.

The Hawaii exemption worked better when Hawaii was in a conference without a championship game. Now that the MWC has a championship game Hawaii does not have the first weekend in December to play the extra game.

The exemption could be relevant again however if the NCAA would allow an extra game to be scheduled in Hawaii as the kickoff game on the weekend before Labor Day. Since championship week is unavailable there needs to be an extra week for this to make sense.

I meant the weekend before College Football traditionally starts. Playing 13 games in 15 weeks makes more sense than playing 13 games in 14 weeks.

The other idea would be to push the Conf Championship games a week back a week to the 2nd weekend in December.

The NCAA has already shot down the idea of adding an extra week to the schedule. Both the SEC and Big12 asked after the NCAA went to a 12 game schedule.

So, would playing a 13 game schedule increase your chances of playing in a BCS Bowl and possibly having a one step up over everybody in the rankings?

I think Hawaii should seriously consider going Independent. They would not have to split the revenue from bowl games as they do now as a member of the Mountain West Conference. The travel costs are extensive for them even to travel to Southern California. They could schedule all their games on their own and probably beef up their schedule, maybe getting more national tv coverage if they schedule bigger games as an independent. If NMSU and Idaho can go independent, Hawaii can certainly make a persuasive case, from a geographic standpoint, why the NCAA should allow them to do so.

I actually agree with this. Now that they are in the MWC they are bound by the potential MWC Championship Game and can’t leave the December slot open for a 13th game. They could really try to go after some big-name teams and most likely wouldn’t have a problem getting them to come to Hawaii. The flip side of that is they could schedule 6 lower-tier or mid-major teams to try to assure themselves of bowl eligibility, also.