Alex Bowman: What is going on over at UMass Athletics?

University of Massachusetts Amherst campus

University of Massachusetts Amherst campus GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

McGuirk Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen, who have gone 6-46 over the past five years as an independent.

McGuirk Stadium, home of the UMass Minutemen, who have gone 6-46 over the past five years as an independent. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Published: 03-24-2024 2:15 PM

The decision to move to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) was driven by the misguided notion that UMass football is the darling of the school. It’s not. College football simply doesn’t have the same cultural significance here in the Northeast.

I was at the homecoming game and sat in a half-empty stadium where it certainly seemed that there were more people there to support the fantastic band than the football team. The leadership describes it as a money problem. Yet it’s hard to believe that the additional funds that being a member of a Football Bowl Subdivision conference can provide will outweigh all the costs — both measurable and immeasurable.

What about all the other athletes? Why would an athlete want to come to UMass only to travel to Ohio, Michigan and beyond for half their competitions? The MAC has a single university within an eight-hour drive of Amherst. The Atlantic-10 has a dozen, including east to Rhode Island, west to Duquesne, and south to Richmond.

UMass, as an institution, is also head and shoulders above the quality of the MAC schools, and the basic admission stats plainly show it: with SAT scores, acceptance rates, graduation rates all above the MAC schools.

What a disastrous and shortsighted decision for the majority of UMass athletes and their fans.

Alex Bowman

Northampton

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