Massachusetts is planning to leave the Colonial Athletic Association and make the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision's Mid-American Conference, according to a report in the Boston Herald. The Minutemen would play a "provisional" schedule in 2011 and 2012 before completing the move to the FBS in 2013.
Mike Barber, from Harrisonburg's (VA) Daily News-Record, adds via Twitter that "multiple sources around the Colonial Athletic Association" are telling him UMass will be joining the MAC as football member. When reached for comment, a UMass spokesman said there was "nothing to confirm or deny."
Per Steve Buckley's report in the Herald, a MAC spokesman would only say that the conference "is 'exploring' the possibility of adding the Minutemen."
Athletic director John McCutcheon, while saying "it would be premature" to announce that the Minutemen gridders are moving up, noted that, "We continue to evaluate where we are with our program."
Additionally, UMass has apparently already had discussions with the New England Patriots about "playing several home games each season in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium." The Minuteman played New Hampshire at Gillette this season in the inaugural "Colonial Clash" -- it set a CAA attendance record with 32,848 fans. UMass typically plays its home games at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium, with a capacity of 17,000.
UMass played its first ever college football game in 1879, as Massachusetts Agricultural College (it defeated cross-town rival Amherst College, 4-0). Massachusetts State College became the University of Massachusetts in 1947, the year after the Yankee Conference was formed, with UMass one of the charter members.
The Yankee Conference eventually was taken over by the Atlantic 10 in 1997 -- UMass won more league titles (17) and games (160) than any other Yankee Conference member. Ten years later, the CAA took over for the A-10. In all, UMass has won 22 league titles, including sharing the 2007 CAA crown with Richmond. The Minutemen won the FCS National Championship in 1998 and lost to Appalachian State in the title game in 2006.