UMass Will Join Mid-American Conference in 2025-2026 Academic Year

The University of Massachusetts will join the Mid-American Conference beginning with the 2025-2026 academic year, The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach is reporting. UMass, which sponsors men’s and women’s swimming & diving teams, is the 13th full-member of the conference.

UMass has been a member of the Atlantic 10 since 1976; along with George Washington University, they are one of only two schools that have been continuous members of the conference for its entire history. Duquesne was also an original member, but left to join the Horizon League for one season from 1992-1993 before rejoining.

This move shifts UMass’ sphere dramatically midwestern. The Atlantic 10 is a wide-reaching conference centered mostly on the East coast, with schools in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Washington DC, and Rhode Island. There are a few midwestern schools currently in that league, though, including St. Louis University and Loyola University Chicago.

While UMass has not yet made a statement on the move, the shift shows a clear decision to move from the basketball-focused A-10 to the football-focused MAC.

The Atlantic-10 does not currently sponsor football, while the Mid-American Conference is a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision. The move will give them a much better chance at a spot in the new expanded College Football Playoff, and the money that goes with it. That system will expand to 12 teams next season, with discussions that it could expand further into the future, and the landscape is becoming increasingly-difficult for independents not named Notre Dame.

UMass already has deep football ties with the MAC. Their 2024 schedule (the year before they join the conference) includes MAC members Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Buffalo, and Toledo.

UMass football finished 3-9 last season.

Both the MAC and the Atlantic 10 sponsor men’s and women’s swimming & diving championships. Last week, the UMass women finished 7th out of 11 teams, though they were 10 points shy of being 5th. The UMass men finished in 2nd out of 8 teams, about 400 points behind the dominant George Washington University.

The MAC, meanwhile, has 7 men’s teams and 8 women’s swimming teams, though 5 of those men’s teams (Evansville, Missouri State, UIC, Southern Illinois, and Valparaiso) are affiliate members in men’s swimming.

UMass’ men are led by a strong diving squad, which includes Andrew Bell, who won the A-10 title on 3-meter last week, and senior Sam Haddad, who finished 3rd in the 400 IM (3:49.90) and 4th in the 200 breast (1:58.50) at last week’s conference championship meet. On the women’s side, top performances include Megan Mitchell, who was 3rd in the 200 back (1:55.83) at A-10s, and Maggie Desmond, who was the 3rd-fastest 50 freestyler in prelims (22.84) before slipping to 7th in finals. They’re both seniors as well.

In a world of constant change and evolution of conferences, the MAC has been one of the most-stable of the mid-major conferences. Every current full member has been a member of the conference since at least 1998 (Buffalo was the most recent to join).

UMass’ basketball team, meanwhile, adds some history and credibility to the MAC. They are 5th in the Atlantic 10 with a 17-10 record (8-7 in conference). The Atlantic 10 is the 8th-rated conference by RPI in men’s basketball, while the MAC is 22nd out of 33 conferences. In women’s basketball, the Atlantic 10 is ranked 10th and the MAC is 19th.

UMass’ men’s basketball team was one of the best mid-major programs of the 1990s, when famed coach John Calipari led the program. That included making the Final Four in 1996, though that run was eventually vacated when it was found that Marcus Camby took money and gifts from an agent during the season.

UMass’ presence in the MAC will also significantly increase the conference’s academic profile. As the #67 ranked school in the US News rankings, they would be the highest MAC-ranked school ahead of Buffalo (#76) and Miami (#133).

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Chris
1 month ago

Interesting… as a Kent State fan, I wasn’t thrilled about UMass joining during the trial run of 2012-2015, and the fit seemed random as the MAC was quickly trying to fill the hole created when Temple decided to leave the conference out of the blue. I suppose UMass will help give the MAC a boost in basketball. They’ll be good compitition to add to other basketball traditional power blue bloods, such as Kent State and Akron, being in the MAC East, in addition to Toledo in the West. Wonder who the 14th member will be? WKU has been trying to join the MAC for the past few years now….

Last edited 1 month ago by Chris
Jeff Snider
1 month ago

What is the MAC Conference thinking? How can this possibly be a good addition? The Mid American Conference is a strong football and basketball conference. UMASS is not a good fit for either sport. Instead of building a stronger conference they are taking a step backwards. This is about as stupid as a MAC team joining the SEC.

1 month ago

Let’s go Buffalo

Steve Nolan
1 month ago

The move will give them a much better chance at a spot in the new expanded College Football Playoff

idk that chance is still pretty near zero.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
Howard Short
1 month ago

Athletics department never cared about swimming, and have been making moves that indicate they are angling to eventually cut the program. Umass, as one of the best state schools in the Northeast, should be able to compete at the highest level in both the A-10 and MAC. However, in a tale as old as time, the school continues to support one of the top 5 WORST football programs in FBS history while whittling support of any other programs wherever possible.

thezwimmer
Reply to  Howard Short
1 month ago

I’d imagine the MAC will have to amend their conference meet requirements when UMASS enters the conference. Currently (on the women’s side), schools face each other every other year, alternating sites. But the current longest trip between schools is 477 miles (Ball State-Buffalo). Adding in UMass makes those trips:

382 miles to Buffalo
593 to Akron
689 to Toledo
692 to Ohio
693 to BGSU
736 to EMU
824 to Miami
850 to Ball State

How are mid-major programs supposed to budget for the flights, as those are clearly not driving distances?

Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

Don’t kid yourself the money is there if the university wants to spend it.

Swimmmer
1 month ago

Rumor has it the 5 MVC schools are bailing for their own championship starting next spring…

Coach
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

The MAC men’s teams are going along as well. Basically it’s just changing from a MAC sponsored meet to a MVC sponsored meet. No idea what UMASS men will do though.

Swimmmer
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

Not sure what choice they’ll have but to pay for MVC affiliate membership for their men’s team. (This is what all MVC Mens teams have had to do for ~10 years to be affiliate MAC programs)

Anonymous
Reply to  Coach
1 month ago

It was discussed at the women’s MVC championship last week. You probably can’t confirm because it’s run about as poorly as a summer rec league.

MACTION
Reply to  Swimmmer
1 month ago

Not bailing, the meet is just changing conference affiliation. The MVC is taking over the meet, and Miami and Ball State will be competing there

thezwimmer
Reply to  MACTION
1 month ago

Such a shame. MVCtion just doesn’t have the same ring to it

MACTION
Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

True, but the Valley Runs Deep

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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