UMass moving up to the MAC in 2012
The University of Massachusetts has work to do before it becomes
the 14th football member of the Mid-American Conference in
At a news conference Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, where the
Minutemen will play their home games in ’12 and ’13, UMass athletic
director John McCutcheon said the school will invest in new
training facilities and possibly the renovation of McGuirk Alumni
Stadium, an on-campus stadium where the team averaged 13,005 fans
Gillette is about 90 miles from UMass’ Amherst campus.
The NCAA will have to formally approve the move of UMass from
Division I’s championship subdivision to its top-tier bowl
subdivision. To play major college football, the program needs to
meet certain average attendance targets and increase the number of
scholarships it gives for football.
”We have to build our fan base, promote season tickets, work on
our non-conference schedule,” McCutcheon said.
The move will provide new sources of revenue for Massachusetts
since the MAC has a television deal and several bowl agreements.
But new costs will include the addition of 22 football scholarships
to a total of 85. The current budget of $4.4 million is scheduled
to increase to $6.9 million by 2013.
UMass is currently a member of the Colonial Athletic Association
and will remain there in 2011 but will not be eligible for
In 2012, it will be eligible to play in the MAC title game and
Most MAC schools are in Ohio and Michigan. Buffalo and Temple,
from Philadelphia, are also in the league.
MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher said the addition of
Massachusetts ”brings value to the Mid-American Conference,”
noting the Boston television market is ranked fifth in the country
and the Hartford-Springfield market is 31st.
UMass becomes the third FBS teams in New England, joining Boston
College and Connecticut.
McCutcheon said he hoped Boston College, which plays in the
Atlantic Coast Conference, and Connecticut, which plays in the Big
East, would add Massachusetts to their non-conference
”I think it would add fan interest and rivalries,” he
Massachusetts is scheduled to play at Boston College in
McCutcheon said schools from several major conferences have
expressed interest in playing at Gillette, which seats 68,756.
Massachusetts will play at least four home games a year there
between 2014 and 2016 without paying rent but sharing in the
revenue with the Patriots.
UMass played for the FCS title in 2006, but the last two seasons
the Minutemen have gone 11-11 under coach Kevin Morris.