The MAC announced Wednesday that it will not expand from its 12-team structure, even as other leagues undergo major changes amid the latest wave of conference realignment in college sports. Conference officials made the announcement several hours after Middle Tennessee publicized its intent to remain in Conference USA.
Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky were reportedly targets of the MAC as a potential package deal to increase the league's membership to 14. However, any chance of WKU joining the conference without Middle Tennessee was shot down by the MAC's announcement.
"Following analysis and evaluation by the membership, it has been determined our best interests are served in the Conference remaining at 12 full member institutions," said MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher. "For some time we have been examining the FBS landscape, and certainly our discussions have been more focused over the past several months as our conference was contacted by other institutions. While a number of institutions have expressed interest, we never requested any institution to apply for membership nor did we have a formal or informal vote concerning any institutions."
The MAC's decision against expansion is good news for Conference USA, which will stand at nine members following the recent additions of Liberty and New Mexico State, two Division I Independents, as well as Jacksonville State and Sam Houston from the FCS. Those four schools, along with existing members FIU, Louisiana Tech, UTEP, WKU and MTSU, will keep the league above the NCAA-mandated minimum of eight schools for FBS leagues.
"With the addition of four new institutions last week, Conference USA remains a great fit for Middle Tennessee," Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod said. "We are very pleased that they have decided to reaffirm their commitment to C-USA as we continue to move forward as a conference. While several institutions have indicated interest in joining our league, we will use this time to be deliberate and strategic in exploring any potential additional expansion."