|1997 NCAA Division I-AA season|
|Payton Award||Brian Finneran (WR, Villanova)|
|Buchanan Award||Chris McNeil (DE, North Carolina A&T)|
|Duration||November 29–December 20|
|Championship date||December 20, 1997|
|Championship site||Finley Stadium|
|NCAA Division I-AA football seasons|
The 1997 NCAA Division I-AA football season, part of college football in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division I-AA level, began in August 1997, and concluded with the 1997 NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship Game on December 20, 1997, at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Youngstown State Penguins won their fourth I-AA championship, defeating the McNeese State Cowboys by a final score of 10−9.
Conference changes and new programs
- Due to rule changes regarding conference sports sponsorships, the membership of the old Yankee Conference shifted to the Atlantic 10 Conference prior to the 1997 season. All 12 members (Boston University, Connecticut, Delaware, James Madison, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Richmond, Villanova, and William & Mary) moved into the new conference.
|School||1996 Conference||1997 Conference|
|Austin Peay||Ohio Valley||I-AA Independent|
|Marshall||Southern (I-AA)||MAC (I-A)|
|Norfolk State||CIAA (D-II)||I-AA Independent|
|South Florida||New Program||I-AA Independent|
|Towson State||I-AA Independent||Patriot|
|Youngstown State||I-AA Independent||Gateway|
Atlantic 10 Conference – Villanova
The NCAA departed from standard bracket structure—where, for example, the fourth and fifth seeds could meet in the second round—in order to place teams from the same conference in different halves of the bracket.
|National Championship Game |
* Denotes host institution
- "1997 NCAA Division I Football Championship" (PDF). NCAA.org. p. 16. Retrieved December 29, 2013.
- Tomashek, Tom (November 24, 1997). "Delaware, Villanova could meet in the mountains". The News Journal. Wilmington, Delaware. p. C4. Retrieved February 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.
- "I-AA football playoffs". Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. November 24, 1997. p. D4. Retrieved February 8, 2019 – via newspapers.com.