UMass set to become 13th member of MAC for '25-26 season

The University of Massachusetts is set to join the MAC in all applicable sports for the 2025-26 school year, the conference announced on Tuesday.

UMass is an independent in football but plays in the Atlantic-10 in basketball and the vast majority of the school's other sports. UMass' hockey program will remain in the Hockey East as the MAC does not have a hockey league.

The MAC presidents voted to invite UMass on Monday, as the school had already formally applied to the league. The league will make a formal announcement on Thursday and there will be a news conference on the school's campus next week.

UMass had also been engaged with Conference USA, per sources. Ultimately, the MAC made more geographic sense, and it also houses more of the sports that UMass offers. UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford made clear in recent comments that joining a league was a priority for UMass.

The move of UMass to the MAC will leave Notre Dame and Connecticut as the lone independents in college football, with Army set to join the American Athletic Conference in the upcoming season.

In basketball, the news is a jolt to the Atlantic 10 Conference, where UMass has had a home since 1976. UMass' Final Four appearance in 1996 is the only Final Four appearance in Atlantic 10 history.

UMass will request to stay in the Atlantic 10 as an affiliate member for men's lacrosse only, according to a source. Women's lacrosse will compete in the MAC.

UMass has some familiarity in the MAC for football, having played four seasons in the league from 2012 to 2015. UMass eventually declined full membership in the MAC, which was part of the contract, and led to the school's departure.

The move brings the MAC up to 13 teams and will open speculation as to whether the league will add a 14th member for balance. There had been discussions about Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky back in 2021, per sources, and those schools would again top any speculative lists.

UMass will play its final season as a football independent this year, and its schedule includes five current MAC members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.