MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher says 'nothing imminent' with league expansion
As conference realignment and expansion talk continues to bubble, don’t expect the Mid-American Conference to make a move just yet.
“You can’t help but look around and be somewhat proactive and talk about a lot of what-ifs,” Mid American Conference commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher said in a phone interview from Chicago on Wednesday morning. “But that’s what it’s been right now, discussion. We have not asked anyone to make an application.
“There is nothing imminent relative to membership.”
This came in response to a statement by Eastern Michigan athletic director Derrick Gragg on Tuesday stating the MAC may issue one or two invitations to schools to join in the “next year or two.”
Steinbrecher said Wednesday “there’s no timetable” for any membership shift. He did say the MAC would look at expansion options, including football-only membership and full league membership.
Steinbrecher said he feels the MAC is “a very strong and stable conference as we sit right now.” But he did say the league is looking, in part due to the ever-changing landscape that is the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The second-year MAC commissioner would not divulge what schools he has discussed with the athletic directors but said if they were to make a membership shift, it would have to be one that fit from “an academic profile and sports profile.”
He also confirmed MAC athletic directors will attend a retreat with Steinbrecher next month and that membership will be discussed among other topics. However, he said, this is nothing out of the ordinary. He held a similar retreat last year.
Expansion talk started last year when the Big Ten announced a 12- to 18-month timetable to explore additions. From there, Nebraska shifted from the Big 12 to the Big Ten and Colorado announced it was leaving the Big 12 for the Pac 10 in June. Utah also made a move to from the Mountain West to the Pac 10 and BYU bolted from the MWC for independence.
The Western Athletic Conference lost Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the MWC.
“That’s the interesting thing,” Steinbrecher said. “It is certainly an unsettled environment right now. You’re constantly playing the what-if game so you’re trying to figure out if these things occur, what should our actions be.”
He also said the league made a “multi-year agreement” with football-only member Temple to stay in the conference. He wouldn’t, though, divulge terms of the deal and how many years “multi-year” means.
Gragg said Tuesday he wouldn’t be surprised if the Owls - which were kicked out of the Big East for being non-competitive in 2004 - left the MAC after the deal expires.