Temple to join MAC in 2007

By Steve Brown

Once faced with the daunting task of keeping its football program alive after being kicked out of the Big East after the 2004 season, Temple’s outlook for 2005 was bleak, at best.

But, after being booted from the Big East and hampered by talk that its football program might disappear completely, the Owls found a savior in the MAC.

The MAC and Temple announced Friday that the Owls will become a football-only member of the MAC beginning in 2007.

MAC commissioner Rick Chryst also hopes to create scheduling opportunities for other sports, namely men’s and women’s basketball.

The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 seasons and haven’t had a winning record since 1990, when the team finished 7-4. Temple was 2-9 last season and is 19-60 in the past seven years

Until 2007, Temple will be an affiliate football member of the MAC. The Owls will play four MAC opponents in 2005 and six in 2006. In 2007, Temple will play a full eight-game conference schedule with eligibility to compete in the MAC Championship.

“This is an important day in the history of the Mid-American Conference,” said NIU President John Peters, chair of the MAC Council of Presidents. “We consider Temple’s addition a major plus. They have upgraded the quality of their facilities, and I think they’re going to be very competitive in D-I football.”

Whether Temple will ever become an all-sport member of the MAC is not yet determined. It could be 2010 before any decisions are made, Peters said.

Temple will join the MAC East after Marshall and Central Florida left for the Big East after the 2004-05 athletic seasons.

Peters, who was recently elected for another year-long term as the chair of the MAC’s Council of Presidents, said the conference’s main concern at this time is developing competitive, academic and sportsmanship membership standards.

Then, the MAC could look for an additional team, one that Peters hopes would serve as a rival for NIU. Still, there are no schools being looked at at this time, Peters said.

“There is a committee of athletic directors and others that are reviewing potential additions, although there is nothing currently active right now,” Peters said. “We’re taking a deliberative approach to this and we want to make sure whoever we bring in is a good fit with a commitment to balance in academics and athletics.”