The University of Massachusetts football program is moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and will become a football member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC). UMass will play a full FBS and MAC schedule beginning with the 2012 football season. Starting in 2013, UMass will be eligible for the MAC Championship and bowl participation. In 2011 UMass will continue to participate in the CAA but will not be eligible for the conference championship or NCAA post-season play.
What is the NCAA’s current process for a football program to reclassify to FBS?
A university must first receive an invitation to join a FBS conference, which UMass has from the MAC. Then before June 1, 2011 the university must declare its intention to the NCAA to reclassify to FBS and it must accept the conference’s invitation. The school will then go through a two-year transitional period (for UMass it will be the 2011 and 2012 seasons). After these two years, if the program meets the criteria listed below the administration cabinet of the NCAA will announce that the school has successfully completed the process. For UMass, this formal announcement would come in the summer of 2013.
The primary NCAA criteria are as follows:
Average 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for home football games, as measured once every two years on a rolling basis.
Scholarship level must be at or near 85 full grants-in-aid.
Play at least 60 percent of all games against FBS programs with at least five home games against FBS opponents (during the second year of reclassification).
What other universities are members of the MAC?
Twelve public institutions are full members of the MAC: University of Akron, Ball State University, Bowling Green State University, University at Buffalo, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Kent State University, Miami University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio University, University of Toledo and Western Michigan University.
Temple University is a football member of the MAC and has a similar relationship with the league as UMass will have. Of course, Temple is a longtime Atlantic 10 rival for UMass in many sports.
Is the move to the MAC for all UMass athletic teams?
No, this move to the MAC is just for the football program. UMass’ other programs will continue their affiliations with the Atlantic 10 (18 sports), Hockey East (ice hockey) and CAA (men’s lacrosse).
What are the postseason prospects for UMass football over the next few years?
In 2011 and 2012, UMass will be ineligible to play postseason football at any level including the FCS Tournament and FBS bowl games. Beginning in 2013 UMass will be eligible to compete in FBS bowl games.
What bowl tie-ins does the MAC have?
The MAC has three guaranteed bowl positions for each of the next three years including 2013, when UMass would be eligible to participate. They are: GoDaddy.com Bowl (Mobile, Ala.), Little Caesars Bowl (Detroit, Mich.) and uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, Idaho). Additionally, the MAC has secondary bowl agreements with the following: BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.), TicketCity Bowl (Dallas, Texas), the New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, N.M.) and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (San Francisco, Calif.).
In 2010, four MAC teams participated in bowl games. In 2008 and 2009, five teams made it to a bowl game. In the last three seasons combined, ten of the 13 MAC teams have participated in at least one bowl game. Below is a look at the bowl positions for the next three years.
Here is a look at the bowl positions for the next three years:
2011 2012 2013
GoDaddy.com Bowl Little Caesars Pizza Bowl GoDaddy.com Bowl
What are the NCAA standards to become bowl-eligible for a season?
Teams at the FBS level must win a minimum of six games to be bowl eligible. This may include one game against an FCS opponent that averages 90 percent of the FCS maximum 63 scholarships.
How will a move to FBS and the MAC increase television exposure?
The MAC’s television contract with ESPN runs through 2016-17. The deal includes a minimum of 15 nationally-televised regular-season football games each year on the ESPN family of networks. Additionally, MAC football games are aired on national platforms such as ESPN Regional Television and ESPN3 throughout the year. All bowl games are nationally televised each year as well. In addition, the MAC has a six-game, over-the-air syndicated package produced and distributed by ESPN Regional Television. Last season alone, over 60 percent of all MAC football games were televised by either a national or regional television network.
In the past three seasons UMass has had only 44 percent of its games televised, and only one of those telecasts was on a national network.
With UMass now playing nearly its entire schedule against FBS teams starting 2012, many non-conference games will also be televised nationally. For example, last season’s game at Michigan was shown on the Big Ten Network.
How long is UMass’ agreement with the MAC for football?
UMass is a sustaining football member with no fixed term to the agreement.
Does this agreement with the MAC include the UMass basketball teams playing non-conference games against MAC opponents similarly to Temple?
Yes, both the UMass men’s and women’s basketball teams will play four non-conference games (two home and two away) against MAC schools each season as long as UMass is a football member of the MAC.
What are the major differences between FBS and FCS football?
FBS programs compete for the opportunity to play in postseason bowl games which offer payouts to participating teams. At the FCS level, teams complete to qualify for a championship tournament with no payouts.
The FBS level allows teams to play a 12-game regular season versus an 11-game schedule in FCS.
UMass will increase its football scholarship total from 63 (the current FCS maximum) to the FBS maximum of 85 by the 2013 season.
As a FBS program, UMass will have more opportunities to play non-conference games against Top 25 opponents.
After decades of speculation about an upgrade to FBS Football, why is this finally the right time?
The issue of elevating to FBS (or I-A) football has been studied since the 1980s at UMass. There have always been three major obstacles: conference affiliation, facility and funding. By forming the partnerships with the MAC and Gillette Stadium, the first two obstacles have been addressed. Increased revenues will come from multiple avenues including: playing at a larger venue with seating for more than 68,000 fans, guarantees from opponents for non-conference away games and new sponsorship opportunities.
What has been the internal process of moving from FCS to FBS?
Initial discussions led by Chancellor Robert Holub and Athletic Director John McCutcheon began in March 2010 and were followed by meetings with the MAC and Gillette officials. Considerable research and benchmarking were done to ensure that this is a sound business, fiscal and institutional decision.
Why is UMass leaving FCS and the CAA?
UMass has enjoyed great success and prosperity at the FCS level for many decades and has been very competitive since joining the CAA in 2007. However, the landscape of college football continues to evolve with recent conference re-alignments and widespread financial constraints.
With the recent changes in the CAA’s membership (adding Georgia State and Old Dominion coupled with the loss of regional and traditional conference opponents Northeastern, Rhode Island and Hofstra), UMass’ team travel costs would increase substantially over the coming years if it remained in the conference.
If UMass stayed in the CAA, football support would need to increase by an estimated $600,000 over the next three years. There would be limited to no opportunities for new revenue streams to cover these added costs as an FCS member.
Additionally, significant future investments would be necessary in order for UMass to stay competitive in the CAA, which is currently the best FCS conference. Moving to the FBS does generate new costs, but doing so also promises significantly greater revenues to cover these costs.
Did UMass consider joining other conferences?
Yes, UMass explored all of its options in terms of conference affiliation.
Does this move impact the current football student-athletes on scholarship?
No, the current scholarship football players will continue at UMass and those players may play until their eligibility is exhausted.
What happens to the student-athletes who signed football National Letters Of Intent (NLIs) in February 2011?
Nothing changes for those players. Those student-athletes will continue to be scholarship student-athletes when they arrive at UMass this fall. The signed NLIs are binding for both the University and the student-athlete regardless of the transition.
Facility Information Where will UMass play its home football games?
For the 2011 season UMass will play four home games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium and one game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. That game versus New Hampshire, known as the “Colonial Clash,” will be played on Oct. 22, 2011.
For 2012 and 2013 UMass will play all of its home games at Gillette Stadium. After that, UMass will play a minimum of four home games at Gillette Stadium through the 2016 season. Following that five-year agreement, there will be an option for additional home games to be played at Gillette.
What are the benefits of UMass playing home games at Gillette Stadium?
Playing at Gillette Stadium, a world-class facility, will provide UMass players and fans alike with one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences in all of college football. By moving home games to Gillette, UMass is seeking to engage its supporters with a total fan experience.
Playing in a 68,756-seat venue will give more fans, alumni and boosters the ability to attend games and experience first-rate amenities such as luxury suites, club-level seating and extensive food and beverage options. None of these amenities are currently available at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. Gillette also features two of the world’s largest high definition video boards.
Patriot Place, an extensive entertainment area adjacent to Gillette Stadium, features more than 1.3 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment perfect for pre and postgame activities. Patriot Place houses major fashion retailers, live and interactive entertainment, eateries, a four-star hotel, a state-of-the-art movie theatre and much more.
By playing in Eastern Massachusetts UMass football will connect with the concentrated fan base made up of more than 120,000 alumni living within a 30-minute drive of Foxboro.
Playing at Gillette Stadium will increase the exposure of the program in the Boston market, the fifth-largest media market in America. Playing in such a visible venue will increase media coverage in Boston and throughout New England.
The ability to hold fan gatherings and other UMass-related events at Gillette Stadium will provide greater opportunities for the Amherst campus to connect with alumni, donors, potential students and influential friends in the Commonwealth and across the country.
Is UMass paying to play at Gillette Stadium?
No, UMass will not be paying rent, but instead has agreed to share revenue with Gillette Stadium. The University and the venue have developed a financial model that benefits both parties. Although all arrangements are unique, the arrangement is similar in nature to that of many institutions playing at off-campus facilities.
Outside consultants who have negotiated similar contracts for other universities directed the development of this agreement.
Will any improvements be made to the football facilities in Amherst?
The football team has new office space located on University Drive in the Slobody Building, just a few hundred yards from McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The third floor offices feature space for the coaching staff, meeting rooms and a recruitment area. This will serve as a transitional headquarters.
Also, UMass will be addressing football facility needs on campus. The athletic department will be moving forward with a fundraising campaign for a football support building, press box and other capital improvements for the program.
Has UMass arranged for any future non-conference opponents to play at to Gillette Stadium?
Preliminary discussions have been held with several potential opponents. Nothing has been finalized at the time of this announcement.
Will UMass’ schedule expand to 12 games?
Yes, in 2012 UMass will begin playing a 12-game schedule, the standard in FBS. UMass could play a 12th game in 2011 if the opportunity arose, as the school will be operating under FBS rules starting June 1, 2011.
Is there a minimum stadium seating requirement to play in FBS?
No. In 2005 the NCAA dropped the rule requiring a minimum 30,000 seat facility. Now a program must have either a two-year rolling average of 15,000 in attendance or one season of averaging 15,000 tickets sold per game. For the UMass transition to FBS, football attendance will need to meet one of these conditions before 2013. After completing the re-classification, the two-year minimums must be maintained for continuously.
What has UMass’ average football attendance been for in recent years?
Last season UMass averaged 13,005 fans per home game at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. That number does not include the 32,848 that came to watch UMass play against New Hampshire in the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium. The 2011 home attendance number will include the Colonial Clash as UMass will be the home team and the game will be included in the season-ticket package.
When UMass fans have shown large interest in games, they have shown up in great numbers. Since 2006, when UMass has a drawn crowd in excess of 10,000 fans, the average attendance has been 14,557 in 18 contests.
Athletic Department Information Why is this move being made?
We seek greatness in all that we do at UMass. Participating in FBS football, the highest level in the sport, is consistent with our role as the flagship campus of the Commonwealth. UMass is the largest public research institution in the state and has an expansive alumni base across the country. Playing in the FBS is a more accurate reflection of our presence in Massachusetts and New England.
This move also advances our intention to join the upper echelon of national public research institutions, most of which participate in FBS football. All of the Association of American Universities (AAU) flagship institutions play FBS football.
What are the most significant cost increases in moving from FCS to FBS?
The most significant cost increase will be increasing from 63 football scholarships at the FCS level to 85 at the FBS level.
In keeping a commitment to gender equity at UMass, women’s athletic scholarships will also increase in order to maintain proportionality.
There will also be increased costs in coaching compensation due to additional staffing positions and increases in recruiting and team travel costs.
How much will the football budget increase?
For the 2010 season the budget for the football program was approximately $4.4 million. By the full classification year of 2013 the football budget is anticipated to be $6.9 million, with much of the increase coming from the $1.5 million increase in scholarship costs.
General fund support for football in 2010 was $825,000. The University estimates that by 2016, when new FBS revenues are fully in place, the general fund support for football will decrease.
How is this upgrade being funded?
By playing at Gillette Stadium, a facility that holds nearly 70,000 fans, UMass will have the ability to sell more tickets. In addition, by moving to FBS UMass will have the ability to play more “guarantee games” on the road as well as the possibility of hosting high-profile non-conference games at Gillette Stadium. Playing at the FBS level brings new and increased sponsorship opportunities. Based on projections of revenues and expenses, UMass calculates that after a transition period it should be able to reduce the general campus financial support for the Athletics Department.
How does this impact other athletic programs at UMass?
By elevating football to the FBS level, the overall profile of the UMass athletic department and the University as a whole will be raised through increased media and television exposure. Exposure for the school will be increased throughout all of New England because UMass is playing its games at Gillette Stadium.
Moving to the FBS in football will significantly improve the competitiveness of women’s athletics, as several women’s programs will be fully funded in scholarships for the first time.
As for UMass’ 20 other existing athletic programs, no resources will be eliminated nor will any budgets be reduced. No programs will be compromised or affected in a negative fashion because of football’s elevation to the FBS level.
Will any UMass programs be discontinued because of this elevation of the football program?
No, UMass will continue to operate a 21-sport athletic program.
Will the athletic staff be supplemented in any way in support areas?
Yes, though the areas that will receive additional support are still being analyzed to determine the most effective use of funding and staff.
Minor changes to the structure of the football coaching staff will occur. For example, two graduate assistant positions will be added per FBS rules.
Booster/Fan Information What ticket packages are being offered?
UMass is the flagship state university and continues to strive to be the home state team with affordable ticket prices and great opportunities for its fans.
In 2011, UMass will be offering two main season ticket packages with options for great opportunities at Gillette Stadium in the future.
Current season ticket holders will have the option to become “McGuirk Founders” while new season-ticket holders for 2011 can become “Founders”
- For 2012, all McGuirk Founders will then have their choice of season tickets at Gillette Stadium between the 40-yard lines or in Club Level
- McGuirk Founders will have the option to keep their same Gillette seats for five years
- McGuirk Founders will have the first opportunity to buy preferred VIP Parking at Gillette (Limited number available)
2011 Season Ticket Packages
$65 includes four home games at McGuirk Stadium and the Colonial Clash at Gillette
(Seating at Gillette Stadium will be on the lower level with first priority after the McGuirk Founders)
$70 includes four home games at McGuirk Stadium and the Colonial Clash at Gillette
(Seating at Gillette Stadium in the Club Level)
a $5 discount will be applied for faculty, staff, seniors and children under 12
- For 2012, all Founders will then have their choice remaining premium seating at Gillette Stadium or in the Club Level while availability remains
- Founders will have the option to keep their same Gillette seats for five years
- McGuirk Founders will have the first opportunity to buy preferred VIP Parking at Gillette (Limited number available following McGuirk Founders)
All 2011 season ticket holders will be contacted prior to the 2012 season about their tickets at Gillette Stadium.
How do I join the Capital Campaign for UMass Football?
To make a donation to support the UMass football program with donation, contact the Athletic Development Office at 413-545-4290.
How Do I join the 100-Yard Club to support UMass Football?
To join the 100-Yard Club and support the UMass football program with donation, contact the Athletic Advancement Office at 413-545-4290.
How do I become a corporate partner for UMass Football?
Contact the Athletic Marketing Office at 413-545-9596.
Will I be able to keep my seats at Gillette Stadium each season?
Based on the Founders program, packages will be set for season ticket holders to maintain their same seats for the first five years.
Will suites be available for purchase at Gillette?
Yes, contact the Athletic Development Office at 413-545-4290.
Will students have to purchase tickets at Gillette Stadium games?
No, UMass will follow same guidelines currently used for home games at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
Will UMass provide transportation for students to the games at Gillette Stadium?