AP Source: UMass to join MAC for football

A University of Massachusetts official said Tuesday the school will become a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision and join the Mid-American Conference for that sport.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the school had yet to announce the move.

The team will play its home games at Gillette Stadium beginning in 2012, the person said, and play its first schedule as a full member of the MAC in 2013.

A news conference is planned for Wednesday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and the Mid-American conference confirmed in a news release that it will co-host the announcement and that MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher would speak.

UMass, which currently plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, would become the third FBS team in New England, joining Boston College and Connecticut.

Both teams have UMass on their schedule in the next two years. The Minutemen will travel to Chestnut Hill on Sept. 24 and will open the 2012 season at Connecticut.

The Minutemen would become the 14th member of the MAC, joining Buffalo and Temple as the only eastern schools in the conference.

UMass is expected to remain a member of the Atlantic 10 in other sports.

In order to meet NCAA eligibility requirements, UMass must average at least 15,000 fans at home football games over two seasons.

Massachusetts currently plays its home games at the 17,000-seat McGuirk Stadium on campus. Gillette seats just under 69,000 people and is 93 miles from Amherst. By comparison, UConn's stadium, in East Hartford, Conn. is 48 miles from the UMass campus.

UMass has played in three national championships as a FCS school, winning the title in 2006. The Minutemen finished last season 6-5, 4-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association.