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What I've been hearing about UMass, the MAC, CUSA and realignment


Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.

Two weeks ago, the conference realignment machine spit out another surprising update: UMass will join the MAC as an all-sports member, starting in the 2025-2026 season. 

It wasn’t a surprise that UMass was looking to find a new league. Multiple UMass officials, including school athletic director Ryan Bamford, made it clear that independence was not sustainable, long-term, for their FBS football program. Back in December, I wrote about UMass engaging with Conference USA…and that the MAC was not considered a candidate to expand in the near future.

In the ESPN story I linked above, Pete Thamel noted that “Ultimately, the MAC made more geographic sense, and it also houses more of the sports that UMass offers.” From asking around other administrators at UMass, the MAC, and CUSA, sport sponsorship alignment was repeatedly mentioned as one of the reasons the MAC was a more attractive landing spot for UMass.

Only three UMass sports, men’s soccer, women’s rowing, and men’s lacrosse, currently need affiliate league membership. UMass has asked to remain a member of the A-10 in men’s lacrosse and women’s rowing, although the A10 is not expected to take a formal vote on those requests until May.

Another attractive component for the MAC, according to other sources familiar with the decision, was that “there were more schools in the MAC that looked like UMass”, not just from an institutional perspective, but from an athletic budget and support perspective.

So what happens next? What does this mean for the A-10, MAC, and CUSA?

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