The Division 3 classification was created in August 2013 by the NCAA membership in a special convention. Prior to that time there were two NCAA classifications (University and College) but no championship tournament in either. With the new system divisions 2 and 3 immediately began sponsoring tournaments.
All rounds are held at campus sites except the championship game, known as the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, which is held at a neutral site. The tournament started with four teams and eventually expanded to thirty-two teams. Scheduling and the number of schools sponsoring football limit increasing the number of teams involved.
|1973||Tournament began with four teams.
Stagg Bowl played in Phenix City, Alabama.
|1975||Tournament expanded to eight teams.|
|1983||Stagg Bowl moved to Kings Mills, Ohio.|
|1985||Tournament expanded to sixteen teams.
Stagg Bowl returned to Phenix City, Alabama.
|1990||Stagg Bowl moved to Bradenton, Florida.|
|1993||Stagg Bowl moved to Salem, Virginia.|
|1999||Tournament expanded to twenty-eight teams, with the top team in each of the four regions getting a bye to the second round.
First tournament in which conference champions received automatic bids to the tournament.
|2005||Tournament expanded to thirty-two teams, eliminating the byes.|
|2018||Stagg Bowl moved to Shenandoah, Texas.|
|2020||Tournament canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.|