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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

MAC shows interest in Raiders, ?Toppers
By Terry McCormick, [email protected]
March 11, 2005

The Mid-American Conference is exploring the possibility of expansion, and a pair of area schools could be on its radar.

The conference has made exploratory inquiries about Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, and there is a possibility that fellow Sun Belt Conference member Middle Tennessee State could be part of a package deal if or when expansion occurs.

The MAC Council of Presidents met in February and drew up plans to adopt a MAC Membership Standards Plan for all member schools to follow and to serve as guidelines for any expansion.

?Regarding expansion ? the matter is certainly a high priority for the conference, and we expect discussions to move forward efficiently,? said John Peters, president at Northern Illinois and chairman of the MAC Council of Presidents.

The MAC currently has 14 members, but will lose Marshall and Central Florida at the end of the current academic year to Conference USA.

The remaining conference members include Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio University, Toledo and Western Michigan.

?We do not have any specific timetable for expansion yet,? MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said of last month?s meeting.

However, Western Kentucky athletics director Wood Selig was contacted by Chryst last month about the Hilltoppers? potential interest in a move. WKU is a charter member of the Sun Belt, having been there since 1982.

?We were contacted by the commissioner of the MAC about a month ago,? Selig said. ?[Chryst] indicated that the presidents of Mid-American Conference had challenged him to review candidates for potential expansion.

?They were uncertain if they wanted to expand, but wanted to have information on institutions who might make sense and be worthy of consideration for expansion, should they want to pursue expansion.?<br>
Selig?s ties to the MAC are strong. He is a 1985 graduate of Ohio University, and also has a long-standing working relationship and friendship with Chryst, when both worked in the ACC.

If the Hilltoppers join the MAC, there is a strong possibility they would have to elevate their football program from Division I-AA to Division I-A.

In regards to MTSU, the Blue Raiders are already D-I in all sports and have been the subject of speculation of a potential move with Western Kentucky, though no formal contact has yet been made.

?To all of us in this area, if Western is being considered ? when you start talking about conferences, I think our name immediately pops up,? Middle Tennessee interim AD Diane Turnham said. ?I think Western Kentucky has been one of our purest rivalries over the last 50 years, beginning in the OVC.?<br>
If the Blue Raiders were to eventually make such a move, football and basketball could be the big beneficiaries, as the MAC usually generates more television exposure, bowl tie-ins and NCAA Basketball Tournament berths than the Sun Belt.

?It?s certainly just speculation at this point, and while we?re certainly not actively seeking to get out of the Sun Belt, but any time there are rumors of realignment, you would have to consider options that might become available to you,? Turnham said. ?While there has been no formal contact, we?re just kind of waiting to see how it all works out.?<br>
One potential sticking point for MTSU could be the tie-in regarding the MAC?s emphasis on academics. The Blue Raider football program recently finished dead last among Division I schools in the NCAA?s most recent Academic Performance Rate.

Sun Belt commissioner Wright Waters acknowledged receiving a call from Chryst regarding the MAC?s interest in Western Kentucky, but said any decisions involving either school are strictly the schools? decisions.

?Those are institutional decisions,? Waters said. ?Our deal is that we?re going to build the best conference we possibly can. We are committed to Division I-A football and building our basketball programs. I think every institution in America has a responsibility to do what?s in its best interests. If that?s in our league, or another league, then that?s their decision.?
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

GOOD LET THEM GO...all they do is whine and claim they are better then EVERYONE...even after losing twice in a row to us. :)
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

Not too fast though, we need numbers for football, or the conference doesn't exist.
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?


GOOD LET THEM GO…all they do is whine and claim they are better then EVERYONE…even after losing twice in a row to us. :)

I'm sorry. I think you have us mistaken for Western Kentucky fans. ;)

I'll just copy and paste a response I made on another messageboard about all this MAC drivel.

Yes, we have seen this article and several others like it all across the mid-state.

Obviously, there is some muckraking being done in the Nashville/Murfreesboro newspapers and media in order to garner a response from the Middle Tennessee athletic department.

Yes, I'm sure we will listen to the MAC just as North Texas listened to the WAC before they told them "no thanks".

But no where in that article did the president of the university (who is a member of the NCAA Board of Directors representing the Sun Belt) address this issue. No where in these articles does it say that MT has been contacted by the MAC or that the university has tried to contact the MAC.

It seems like you got alot of pro-MAC journalists trying to get the MAC's attention for Middle Tennessee whether we want their attention or not.

We are very happy in the Sun Belt with our growing rivals with Troy, Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida Atlantic, and North Texas.

Western Kentucky can have Kalamazoo, Yspilanti, and Bowling Green (not in Kentucky) with all the cold temperatures, smog, and dirt. We prefer to stick with the Sun Belt and warm weather, sunny skies, and palm trees! It's so much better!

Look forward to heading down to Fort Lauderdale this fall!
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

I kind of agree with Blue Raider, I don't believe they will move. Western Kentucky is probably more likely and even that may not be as solid as the MAC would like to believe. Remember they have been with the Sun Belt for a very long time and IMO if Western did stay it would be good addition.

Blue Raiders is also right about the Rivalries in the group and I would say we have a pretty good one going with MTSU right now. Who knows it could be a feature games on Saturday in the near future.
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

What makes sense doesn't always unfold especially if the money is right and in this case I'm not so sure that would be the case. If this where to happen it's at least 3-4 years down the road and by then the SBC should be a little more established by then , plus like blueraider and Talon mentioned teams are beggining to form rivalrys and that is what makes for good interconference match-ups in turn streghten its in the process.
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?


What makes sense doesn't always unfold especially if the money is right and in this case I'm not so sure that would be the case. If this where to happen it's at least 3-4 years down the road and by then the SBC should be a little more established by then , plus like blueraider and Talon mentioned teams are beggining to form rivalrys and that is what makes for good interconference match-ups in turn streghten its in the process.

In fact there are people that posts on MTSU's forum that are very high officials at the university. They take how we dedicated MT fans feel about this to heart.

From what I'm hearing (and this is from those that will make that decision) Middle Tennessee will listen to the MAC as is customary for a school who is offered a membership to another conference just as North Texas did with the WAC, but Middle Tennessee does not plan to move to the MAC nor has any desire to be in the MAC.
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MTSU looking to leave the SunBelt?

its really not an upgrade. I would say if you got invited to the big east of conference usa then go but going from the belt to the mac is apple and kiwi's or is it oranges.
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