The conference forming along the lines of the NCAA’s Mid-American Conference (MAC) is still in formation, but we know eight teams who will compete in the DI-AA league this season.
Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Dayton, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Ohio and Western Michigan are in. All of those teams, except Dayton, come from schools that traditionally play in the MAC.
“We only had six teams initially, so we asked if Dayton wanted to join us to fit the USA Rugby requirement,” said Bowling Green’s Roger Mazzarella, who is commissioning the new league.
“After we started doing the paperwork, Northern Illinois decided to come on down and join, so that made it eight. We’re certainly not going to kick Dayton out, but the sentiment is to keep MAC only.”
That sentiment will be put to the test this week, as the current members of the new league consider adding two non-MAC schools – Cincinnati and Wheeling Jesuit.
Cincinnati applied for an exemption to stay in DII but was denied. The Bearcats are wrestling with whether or not they want to play in DII without hope of postseason play or to move to DI-AA.
Wheeling Jesuit was denied acceptance into the Keystone Conference, and is hoping to join the MAC-like league.
The member teams will vote on Cincinnati and Wheeling Jesuit this week.
Buffalo was invited to join the new conference, as its varsity sports compete in the MAC, but they had already committed to the Empire Conference in April and decided to stay in the Empire for the upcoming season.
Kent State, formerly a DIII team, has been allowed to stay in DII this season. They could well join the new MAC-like league in the future.
The new conference is slated to play a home-or-away schedule, without divisions, in the fall.