The five charter members of the Mid-American Conference were Ohio University, Butler University, the University of Cincinnati, Wayne University (now Wayne State University), and Western Reserve University, one of the predecessors to today's Case Western Reserve University. Wayne University left after the first year. Miami University and Western Michigan University took the place of those charter members for the 1948 season. The MAC added the University of Toledo (1950), Kent State University (1951), and Bowling Green State University (1952). The University of Cincinnati resigned its membership February 18, 1953, with an effective date of June 1, 1953. Cincinnati's decision was based on a new requirement that at least 5 conference football games would have to be scheduled each season, University President Raymond Walters saying they "...regretfully resign...as the university could not continue under the present setup..."
The membership was steady for the next two decades except for the addition of Marshall University in 1954 and the departure of Western Reserve in 1955. Marshall was expelled from the conference in 1969 due to NCAA violations. The first major expansion since the 1950s took place in the mid-1970s with the addition of Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University in 1972 and Ball State University and Northern Illinois University in 1973. NIU left after the 1985–86 season. The University of Akron joined the conference in 1992. The conference became the largest in Division I-A with the re-admittance of Marshall and NIU and addition of the State University of New York at Buffalo's Bulls in 1997 and 1998, respectively. The University of Central Florida joined for football only in 2002, becoming the first football-only member in conference history. Marshall (a second time) and Central Florida (a non-football all-sports member in the Atlantic Sun Conference at the time) would leave after the 2004–05 academic year, both joining Conference USA in all sports.
In May 2005, the Temple Owls in Philadelphia signed a six-year contract with the MAC as a football-only school and began play in the East Division in 2007.
The Louisville Cardinals were a MAC affiliate for field hockey for a number of years when Louisville was a member of the Metro Conference and Conference USA, winning two MAC tourney titles in 2003 and 2004.
The Missouri State Bears, Evansville Purple Aces, and Southern Illinois Salukis participate in the MAC for men's swimming and diving. In 2012, the West Virginia Mountaineers joined the Florida Atlantic Owls and Hartwick College Hawks as men's soccer affiliates. Missouri, Northern Iowa, and Old Dominion are wrestling affiliates. The Missouri State Bears are also an affiliate for field hockey.
The UMass Minutemen joined the MAC as a football-only member in July 2012; the university announced that the team would leave the MAC at the end of the 2015 season due to contractual issues. Meanwhile, Temple ended its affiliation with the MAC in football and joined the Big East for football in July 2012. Following the split of the Big East into football-sponsoring and non-football conferences in July 2013, Temple became a full member of the football-sponsoring portion, the American Athletic Conference, ending its membership in the Atlantic 10 at that time. The Chicago State Cougars were an affiliate for men's tennis until joining the Western Athletic Conference, which sponsors that sport, in July 2013.
There are twelve schools with full membership:
Ten schools have MAC affiliate membership status. On July 1, 2012, Temple joined the Big East Conference for football only (the school's other sports would join the Big East/American for 2013–14), and Massachusetts replaced Temple as a football-only member in the MAC East Division. On September 19, 2012, the MAC announced Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion would join as wrestling affiliates; as the Southeastern and Missouri Valley Conferences do not sponsor wrestling. Missouri and Northern Iowa participated only in the conference tournament in the 2012–13 school year, and began full conference play in 2013–14. Old Dominion did not begin MAC competition until 2013–14, when it left the Colonial Athletic Association (which had sponsored wrestling, but no longer does so) for Conference USA (which has never sponsored the sport).
On July 1, 2013, Florida Atlantic's men's soccer program moved with the rest of its athletic program to Conference USA, and Chicago State's men's tennis team followed the rest of its sports to the Western Athletic Conference.
The 2014–15 school year saw one affiliate member leave for another conference and two new affiliates join. The Hartwick men's soccer team left the MAC for the Sun Belt Conference, which had announced in February 2014 that it would reinstate men's soccer, a sport that it last sponsored in 1995, for the 2014 season. The new affiliates for 2014–15 are Binghamton in men's tennis and Longwood in field hockey.Notes
† = On March 26, 2014, UMass announced that they would leave the MAC following the 2015 FBS football season.
Nicknames listed here reflect those used during each school's MAC tenure. Two schools have changed their nicknames since leaving the MAC—Central Florida dropped "Golden" from its nickname, becoming simply Knights, while Wayne State now uses Warriors. Western Reserve merged with Case Institute of Technology in 1967 to form today's Case Western Reserve University, with the athletic programs merging in 1971. With the athletic merger, Case Western abandoned the nicknames of both former institutions and adopted Spartans. IPFW rebranded its athletic program as "Fort Wayne" in 2016, long after its men's soccer and men's tennis teams left the MAC.Notes
‡ = In early 2014, the MAC made the decision "... to move forward without multi-divisional institutions." The conference then informed Hartwick College that their contract as an affiliate member would not be renewed.
Full members Associate members (football only)Dave Reese, 1946–1964
Bob James, 1964–1971
Fred Jacoby, 1971–1982
Jim Lessig, 1982–1990
Karl Benson, 1990–1994
Jerry Ippoliti, 1994–1999
Rick Chryst, 1999–2009
Jon Steinbrecher, 2009–present
The Mid-American Conference sponsors championship competition in 11 men's and 12 women's NCAA sanctioned sports. As of the 2014–15 school year, 10 schools are associate members for six sports.
1: Rifle is technically a men's sport, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other. Akron fields a coed team.
Notes: For the current season, see 2016 Mid-American Conference football season.
In 2016, the MAC is contracted to provide a team for five college football bowl games: the Miami Beach Bowl, Bahamas Bowl, GoDaddy Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and Camellia Bowl. The MAC also has secondary agreements with the Poinsettia Bowl and with several ESPN owned bowls.Notes
The MAC Champion (if not invited to the College Football Playoff or its associated bowls) is not contractually obligated to any specific bowl. The Conference and the Universities select which teams will play in which of the league's five affiliated bowls.
College Football Playoff
The MAC champion will receive an automatic berth in one of the so-called "New Year's Six" bowl games associated with the College Football Playoff under either of the following circumstances::Selected as one of the top four teams overall by the CFP selection committee, in which case the team will play in a CFP national semifinal.
Ranked by the committee as the top champion among the five conferences (American, C-USA, MAC, MW, Sun Belt) given access to one of the CFP bowls, in which case the team will play in the so-called "Access Bowl" as an at-large selection.
The first "Access Bowl" berth in 2014 went to Boise State (MW); the 2015 berth went to Houston (American). The MAC got its first berth in 2016 with Western Michigan.
During the era of the now-defunct Bowl Championship Series (BCS), one MAC team appeared in a BCS bowl game. In 2012, NIU qualified by being ranked in the top 16 (15th) in the season's final BCS standings, and also higher than at least one champion of a conference that received an automatic berth in a BCS game. In the 2012 season, two such conference champions were ranked below NIU: Big East champion Louisville, who was ranked 22nd, and Big Ten champion Wisconsin, who was unranked. NIU lost to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Football rivalries involving MAC teams include:
In addition, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Western Michigan compete for the Michigan MAC Trophy, which is awarded to the team with the best head-to-head record each year. Since the inception of the trophy in 2005, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan have each won the trophy four times, and Western Michigan has won the trophy three times.
In August 2010, Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher and the Cleveland Cavaliers announced that the Mid-American Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments would remain in Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena through 2017. Both tournaments have flourished since moving to Cleveland in 2000, with the men's semi-finals and championship regularly drawing large crowds at Quicken Loans Arena. In 2007, the MAC also announced a format change for both tournaments, bringing all twelve men's and women's teams to Cleveland. The MAC also co-hosted the 2007 Women's Final Four at Quicken Loans Arena after successfully hosting the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Regional at the same facility.
The following are the most recent champions of each sport's respective conference tournament. Champions from the previous academic year are indicated in italics.
The Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame was the first Division I conference Hall of Fame. It was established in 1987 and classes have been inducted in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2012 and 2013.
In order to be eligible, a person must have participated during the time the university was in the MAC and five years must have passed from the time the individual participated in athletics or worked in the athletic department.
The following is a list of the members of the MAC Hall of Fame, along with school affiliation, sport(s) for which they were inducted, and year of induction.
A number of MAC sports, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling and volleyball, are telecast on Spectrum Sports (Ohio), replacing SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Ohio as the MAC TV partner. Along with Spectrum Sports, ESPN, as well as the American Sports Network, retain the "local and regional" syndication telecast rights to the MAC for football and basketball.
Ball State produces its own comprehensive television package with Ball State Sports Link. Affiliate stations include WIPB in Muncie, WNDY in Indianapolis, WPTA in Fort Wayne, WHME in South Bend, WTVW in Evansville, WYIN in Merrillville and Comcast in Michigan. All Ball State Sports Link games are also broadcast on student radio station WCRD and on the Ball State Radio Network produced by WLBC-FM and Backyard Broadcasting.
NIU has multiple football and basketball games telecast by Comcast SportsNet Chicago. In addition, most NIU football and basketball games can be heard on WSCR-AM 670 "The Score" - Chicago's powerful 50,000-watt top-rated all-sports station, which reaches 38 states and Canada.
MAC Properties (a division of ISP Sports) is the sponsorship arm of the Mid-American Conference, and handles all forms of sponsorship and advertising for the MAC which includes managing and growing its stable of official corporate partners. As of 2010, the MAC has five official corporate partners: FirstEnergy, Marathon, PNC Bank, AutoTrader.com and Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. There are approximately 20 other companies engaged as sponsors of the conference at the non-official level. MAC Properties also assists with the management of the conference's television and radio contracts, including those with ESPN Regional, FOX Sports Ohio and ESPN 850 WKNR among others.