The MAC made its decision on Saturday morning in a league presidents vote, sources said. Conference presidents initially met on Thursday to finalize the league’s programming format. However, Northern Illinois President Lisa Freeman, a former University of Rochester Medical School researcher, has indicated her school will not play this fall due to health and safety concerns, said sources.
“The league didn’t like the look of NIU going out alone and not playing,” a source said, explaining the MAC’s non-voting on Thursday.
The Huskies have made eight league appearances for the MAC title and have won four of the last nine MAC titles. After the league did not make a decision on Thursday, it voted on Saturday not to play this fall, sources said.
Aside from health and safety concerns, the MAC has been one of the leagues most financially affected by the Power Five’s decision to eliminate or cut back on non-conference games. The MAC canceled 11 games against members of the Big Ten, costing MAC schools a combined $ 10.5 million. Bowling Green State lost $ 2.2 million, central Michigan lost $ 2.15 million, Kent State lost $ 1.5 million, and NIU lost $ 1.1 million.
After the Big Ten announced its conference format only last month, Bowling Green State athletic director Bob Moosbrugger called the decision “the tip of the iceberg. Ten FBS conferences have signed a college football playoff deal in the hope that we will work together for the sake of college football. If we are to resolve these challenges and be truly dedicated to protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes, we must work better together.
At the time, MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said the league’s intention “was to play a full schedule. [Those non-conference games] are very valuable. Now we’ll need to take a step back and think about what this means for us.
The MAC was established in 1946. Current members include Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green State, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, and Western Michigan.
Several smaller championship football subdivision (FCS) conferences have also canceled their fall football seasons. The NCAA announced on Wednesday that all Fall Division II and III athletic championships will be canceled.
The question now is: will other FBS leagues follow suit and cancel their seasons?
“A cancellation of the Group of Five league would make our presidents more nervous in an already stressful time,” said a Group of Five sporting director.
Adding a Power Five AD: “Everyone understands the financial implications without a football season, but will other conference presidents want to take the risk of something happening on campus?” [like] a major COVID outbreak that shuts down the football program and the campus? That would be a major public relations issue, and then there are the liability issues.
” Who knows? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
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