The UMass Minutemen and the MAC will no longer be together following the 2015 season . The Minutemen have been a football-only member of the MAC since 2012 but at the conclusion of the 2015 season the two parties will part ways.
The MAC the conference revealed on Wednesday that the league exercised a contractual clause which offered UMass a choice: Become a full member or begin a two-year football-only provision after which the school will be free to join another conference. The clause was exercised on Feb. 17 during meetings with the MAC Council of Presidents, and UMass declined full membership, putting the two-year clock into effect.
The complexity of the UMass deal is owed to the fact they were brought in to satisify the MAC's last football only member, Temple.
"Both Temple and UMass wanted deals which didn’t have a sunset attached to them when we negotiated. They were not sustaining deals. We were willing to do so, but we also wanted some protection in case one of the football-only members left. We built in a clause that if one of the football-only members left, we could convert the contract to a term contract." Jon Steinbrecher told SI.com
The mere fact this broke down to the MAC wanting full members seems to indicate that if there is future conference expansion that it will mean any new members are full adds.
But the current MAC membership, minus UMASS, consist of teams that have been together in since 1999 when Buffalo became the newest member of the conference. Most of the teams in the MAC have been a part of the conference going back far longer than that.
UMass should have other options but one of them is not going to be as an independent. Their future FBS aspiration hinge on them getting an invite to a conference which wants football only or one that is appealing enough to lure the Amherst Massachusetts school to bring all of their sports in.
At the current time the only G5 conference which would fit is going to be teh American Athletic Association.
UMass leaving opens up new doors for the MAC if they decide to expand. The conference can move south west, or towards Virginia where JMU is ready to move up.
This is the second time in several years where a school in Buffalo's alumni footprint has left the conference. Temple and UMass were, institutionally, the schools most similar to Buffalo who played football in the MAC. The shift in geography and institution means that UB is once more a big outlier in the league.