UMass to exit MAC after 2015

Updated: March 26, 2014, 4:43 PM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN.com

The Mid-American Conference and UMass reached an agreement forcing the Minutemen to leave the league as a football-only member after 2015.

UMass had been a football-only member of the MAC the past two seasons and primarily a member of the Atlantic 10 in its other sports.

Last month, the MAC offered full membership to UMass, but the school declined. Per UMass' agreement with the MAC, if it turned down full membership from the conference, the school would be able to remain a football-only member for only two more seasons, sources said.

"We wanted full members," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher told ESPN. "We're at a point if people want to be a part of us, fine. If they don't, they don't. Let's move on. We had a very positive relationship with UMass.

"This has clearly been an issue hanging over our membership. It brings some conclusion to that."

In each of the Minutemen's first two years in the MAC, in 2012 and '13, they were 1-7 in MAC play and 1-11 overall, respectively. UMass will remain in the MAC East Division in 2014 and '15.

UMass plans to remain an FBS football member after leaving the MAC, university spokesman John Sinnett told ESPN.

"We are committed to FBS football and have been working with Carr Sports Consulting to examine future conference possibilities," Sinnett said. "We have been actively pursuing alternative options for conference alignment, but it is in the university's best interest not to speculate on those at this time."

In 2016, the MAC will be a 12-team conference consisting of Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami (Ohio) and Ohio in the East; and Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan in the West. Sources told ESPN it is unlikely the MAC would seek additional members.

"We feel very good about our membership," Steinbrecher said. "We have a lot of tradition and a great deal of continuity with our membership. Just look at the past three to four years, the accomplishments of student-athletes and coaches have been remarkable, and I would expect the same moving forward."

Brett McMurphy | email

College football reporter

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