The University of Massachusetts announced plans Wednesday to leave the CAA at the end of the 2011 season and begin play in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in 2012.
The Minutemen plan to play a full MAC schedule beginning in 2012 and by 2013 be eligible for the MAC Championship and bowl participation.
The move was announced at an afternoon press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. It ends a 65-year run for UMass, which was a charter member of the Yankee Conference (now CAA) in 1946.
“Massachusetts has been a charter member of the conference dating back 65 years and we are disappointed that these long standing rivalries will cease,” CAA Football Commissioner Tom Yeager said in a statement. “At the same time, we are all charged with advancing the interests of our respective programs and I know that the decision to elevate their program to the FBS level was thorough and complete. We wish Massachusetts well as the university pursues these new interests.”
Due to its announcement to leave the conference, UMass will not be eligible for the 2011 NCAA Division I (formerly 1-AA) Football Championship or the the CAA Football Championship.
UMass is the third CAA program to make a major move in the last 16 months. Hofstra and Northeastern both eliminated its football programs after the 2009 season.
The CAA, which currently has 10 teams, will add Georgia State to the league in 2012.