Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade responds to UMass’ decision to leave the Atlantic 10: “This news does not alter the mission of the A-10”

UMass football coach Don Brown, left,  is presented a Minuteman jersey by UMass Amherst Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford during a press conference at his introduction in the Martin Jacobson Football Performance Center on Dec. 1, 2021.

UMass football coach Don Brown, left, is presented a Minuteman jersey by UMass Amherst Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford during a press conference at his introduction in the Martin Jacobson Football Performance Center on Dec. 1, 2021. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-27-2024 3:14 PM

Modified: 02-27-2024 4:02 PM


AMHERST — For nearly half a century, University of Massachusetts athletics have been an integral part of the Atlantic 10 Conference in a variety of sports – ranging from basketball, to lacrosse, to swimming and much more. The institution was one of the A-10’s founding members when the league was first created in 1976.

But early Monday afternoon, news broke that UMass would be leaving its 48-year home for the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC) in all sports following the end of the 2024-25 athletic seasons, officially marking the end of a long-time partnership with the Atlantic 10.

The move was driven behind the need to find a conference for the UMass football program.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said a press conference to officially announce the move won’t be coming for another week, but MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher confirmed to the Associated Press on Tuesday that the MAC's council of presidents voted Monday to admit UMass. The league said it will make a formal announcement on Thursday before a news conference in Amherst next week.

“We look forward to the relationship,” said Steinbrecher, who spoke to The Associated Press after a news conference for the upcoming Women's Final Four in Cleveland.

A-10 commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade released a statement on Tuesday morning regarding UMass’ departure.

“Conference realignment has become a constant among Division I institutions,” McGlade said. “Massachusetts has been very transparent with the Atlantic 10 in its search for an FBS conference affiliation. In turn the A-10 has been very respectful of this need and the environment needed surrounding FBS football.”

That language would lead to believe that McGlade and the conference weren’t surprised in the least bit given UMass’ public search of a home for its football team. The decision wasn’t a matter of if, but a matter of when and where.

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The parting of ways is certainly bittersweet for each party, and despite losing a conference cornerstone, the league said its mission remains the same.

“I respect the UMass administration, coaches, and student-athletes as they have been a valuable member of the A-10,” McGlade said. “The Atlantic 10 has provided UMass an environment to be successful for nearly 50 years in numerous sports including a Final Four run in men’s basketball. This news does not alter the mission of the A-10 as a nationally relevant successful basketball-centric conference with a robust Olympic sports platform also built for success.”