After just two seasons and two conference wins for the Minutemen, the University of Massachusetts and the Mid-American Conference have reached an agreement that 2015 will be final year UMass will be a football-only member of the MAC.
UMass is mainly is a member of the Atlantic 10 conference in other sports, including men’s basketball, but has participated in the MAC the last two seasons.
“UMass has been a valued partner during its brief time within our conference, however the 2014 and 2015 seasons will be the final two football seasons for UMass as a football-only member in the MAC,” MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said.
According to a release from the conference, the agreement between UMass and the MAC “contained a contractual clause that offered UMass a choice of becoming a full member for all sports or two remain a football-only member for two more years.” When the clause was exercised on February 17, UMass was offered full membership, but the school declined the offer and opted to play out its final two seasons as a football-only member.
UMass, along with Temple, originally agreed to join the MAC as its only football-only members. The two schools brought the conference membership to 14 universities, which “brought balance to the East and West divisions in football.” That changed when Temple left to join the Big East (now the AAC) in all sports, leaving the conference with 13 football members. The departure of UMass leaves 12 schools – six in each division – beginning with the 2016 season.
“This is not the outcome we anticipated when UMass was admitted as a football-only member. However, circumstances changed regarding our football membership and this is a result of those circumstances,” Steinbrecher said.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette is reporting that the school’s successful basketball programs played a part in the decision, but this is not a decision for UMass’ football program to leave the FBS level.
UMass chose not to sacrifice competitive viability of basketball and financial viability of other sports to stay in MAC— Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) March 26, 2014
According to A.D. John McCutcheon, men's basketball scheduling contract with MAC is done. MInutemen will not play MAC teams in 2014— Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) March 26, 2014
McCutcheon said UMass is committed to FBS football. I'll have early version of a story up shortly— Matt Vautour (@GazetteUMass) March 26, 2014
The Minutemen were 1-7 in MAC play and 1-11 overall in the team's first two seasons in the conference.
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