Mid-American Conference announces UMass as full member

Minutemen set to join league in 2025, NIU had game scheduled against them for 2026

Northern Illinois University and the University of Massachusetts are scheduled to play a nonconference football game in 2024 at Huskie Stadium.

The following year, the teams will once again be part of the same conference.

The Mid-American Conference Council of Presidents has voted unanimously to add UMass as a full member in all sports, beginning with the 2025-26 academic season, the league announced Thursday. The move will bring the conference’s membership to 13 institutions.

“Today marks a historic moment for the Mid-American Conference as we proudly welcome the University of Massachusetts into our family,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “Adding UMass is an exciting next step as we increase the strength of our collective programs. We are thrilled to welcome their student-athletes, coaches, administrators, alumni and fans to the conference. The opportunity to add a state flagship institution with exceptional academics and a storied athletics tradition does not come along often. I look forward to our collaborative efforts in providing outstanding opportunities for student-athletes to maximize their intellectual and athletic pursuits.”

UMass is a football independent but is in the Atlantic-10 for most other sports. They’ll be a full MAC member after being a football-only member from 2012-15.

The league did not specify what this means for the new pod system it announced in November. It eliminated divisions and created three-team protected partner groupings, with NIU in a pod with Bowling Green and Toledo. The new system ensured that each team would face all MAC opponents home and away at least once during a three-year cycle.

NIU and UMass also are scheduled to play in 2026 as nonconference opponents, however that game is likely to be canceled with a replacement game for each to be scheduled. The Huskies are scheduled to play at Iowa and Arizona that year while hosting Illinois State.

The teams have met twice all time, with NIU winning 63-0 at Huskie Stadium in 2012 and 63-19 on the road in 2013.

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