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UMass calls Sun Belt about potential membership

UMass is leaving the MAC in 2015. (USATSI)
UMass is leaving the MAC in 2015. (USATSI)

Could the Sun Belt look to the Northeast for its 12th member?

Massachusetts called the Sun Belt and both sides have had a "very preliminary" discussion about joining forces, commissioner Karl Benson told CBSSports.com.

UMass became available as a football-only member after it became clear in March that the Minutemen would not fulfill all-sports-member status required of the Mid-American Conference, its old home. UMass will part ways with the MAC in 2015.

The Sun Belt has been looking to fill its final spot by June 1 and has had discussions with several FCS-level schools, including Liberty.

The loss of several schools to C-USA prompted the Sun Belt to add Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Idaho and New Mexico State for membership in 2014, giving the conference 11 members for now.

A 12-team league would allow the Sun Belt to host a championship game and create geographical divisions.

The Sun Belt will discuss the matter at its spring meetings later this month.

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.
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