UMass players on the sideline, as one holds his helmet in the air. Credit: UMass Athletics/Thom Kendall

University of Massachusetts Accepts Invitation to Join the Mid-American Conference As Full Member

Massachusetts to join Mid-American Conference for the 2025-26 academic year
The UMass Athletics "Power-U" logo
Mid-American Conference shield logo

The University of Massachusetts has accepted an invitation to join the Mid-American Conference (MAC) as a full member, beginning on July 1, 2025. 

A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 7 in the Hunt Room at the Football Performance Center. 

“As one of the nation’s leading public research universities, with a rich tradition of intercollegiate athletics, UMass Amherst is well suited to join the similarly situated institutions of the Mid-American Conference,” said Chancellor Javier A. Reyes. “We are aligned with the MAC in our institutional missions, our values, and the profound impact we have on our respective communities. We join the MAC with great enthusiasm knowing that this affiliation through athletics will elevate and extend the profile and exposure of both UMass Amherst and all members of the MAC’s member institutions significantly.”

Massachusetts will compete in the Mid-American Conference in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s indoor/outdoor track & field, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s tennis. The Massachusetts hockey program will remain in the Hockey East Association moving forward. 

More information will become available in the coming months regarding future conference membership plans for the UMass men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and women’s rowing programs.

All UMass sports currently competing in the Atlantic 10 will remain in the Atlantic 10 through the 2024-2025 academic year and maintain eligibility to compete for conference championships and NCAA postseason play. Massachusetts football will continue as an FBS independent program for the 2024 season.

“Our entire athletics program will benefit greatly by aligning and partnering with the Mid-American conference and its member institutions,” said Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford. “As we consider our future in a very challenging and choppy college athletics landscape, having conference peers with similar institutional profiles, aspirations and commitments toward athletics excellence will provide stability and strength. Furthermore, our transition to the MAC will provide additional resources allowing our department to evolve and grow in a manner that will support student academic success and competitive excellence,” Bamford added. 

The move will bring the MAC’s membership to 13 institutions as UMass will join Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo and Western Michigan. Massachusetts was a football only affiliate member of the MAC from 2012-2015. 

“Today marks a historic moment for the Mid-American Conference as we proudly welcome the University of Massachusetts into our family,” said MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. “Adding UMass is an exciting next step as we increase the strength of our collective programs. We are thrilled to welcome their student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and fans to the Conference. The opportunity to add a state flagship institution with exceptional academics and a storied athletics tradition does not come along often. I look forward to our collaborative efforts in providing outstanding opportunities for student-athletes to maximize their intellectual and athletic pursuits.”

“The addition of UMass expands our geographic footprint into the Northeast, which is a very attractive market, and it will strengthen our league for many years to come,” said Geoffrey S. Mearns, President of Ball State University. “With an outstanding academic reputation and an excellent record of athletic success, UMass aligns fully with the MAC’s mission and our core values.”

About Massachusetts Athletics

The Massachusetts athletics department is committed to excellence in the classroom, in competition, and in the community. This past fall, the department extended a streak of 15 consecutive semesters with at least a 3.0 term GPA. The department has also recorded some of the highest APR scores in the nation each of the last four years and an 88% Graduation Success Rate average over the most recent three GSR releases – outpacing the general student population at UMass over that period. 

With over 650 student-athletes competing on our 21 varsity teams, 13 of those programs (62%) have won at least one team or individual league championship since 2015. Recent excellence includes NCAA participation for eight UMass teams since 2020-21, appearances in the last three A-10 women’s basketball championship games and capturing back-to-back Hockey East championships and the 2021 NCAA national championship in ice hockey. In addition to successes in the classroom and in sport, UMass athletics fundraised a department-record $8.4M in 2022-23.

About the University of Massachusetts

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is the commonwealth’s flagship public research university, dedicated to providing a world-class, accessible education and advancing progress for the people of Massachusetts and beyond. With nearly 24,000 undergraduate and 8,000 graduate students, UMass Amherst offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs across 10 schools and colleges, with around 100 undergraduate majors to choose from. Students can also explore their passions beyond the classroom through hundreds of student organizations; Division I, intramural, and club sports; and more. 

Founded in 1863, UMass Amherst is proud to be the #1 public research university in New England (non-medical school R&D expenditures). As one of only eight “R1: Doctoral Universities,” and the only public institution, with the “Very High Research Activity” in Massachusetts, UMass is committed to translating cutting-edge research into real-world impact—from discoveries that advance medicine and technology to efforts which confront pressing social challenges and adapt to the effects of climate change. UMass is home to over 1,400 full-time instructional faculty members, including 12 of the world’s most highly cited researchers. In their work, UMass researchers partner with government, nonprofits, and industries alike to serve the commonwealth and improve lives. 

On its 1,450-acre campus in the scenic Pioneer Valley, UMass boasts many state-of-the-art facilities for teaching, research, scholarship, and creative activity. Academics and industry researchers across Massachusetts and the region may access the UMass Core Facilities, 30 advanced laboratories with cutting edge equipment, bolstered by world-class experts. The campus also offers a vibrant and diverse arts scene, with a collection of art galleries, multiple performing arts venues, and a robust performance calendar. UMass is consistently ranked #1 in campus dining; is recognized among the best LGBTQ+-friendly campuses; and is committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion for all.

About the Mid-American Conference

The Mid-American Conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio as the Conference office serves 12 full-time members and offer championships in 23 sports.

Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of ten members of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.