Thursday April 21, 2011

FOXBOROUGH -- The University of Massachusetts has, at long last, made the move. UMass is now going to play at the highest level of Division I football.

The University announced on Wednesday that it would be joining the Mid-American Conference as a football member, effective in 2012. As a Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision team, UMass would become eligible to play in postseason bowl games instead of the Division I-Football Championship Subdivision tournament.

"We feel the time is right for this landmark decision of UMass football elevating to the FBS level," UMass athletic director John McCutcheon said. "Playing in the FBS is where UMass should be positioned as the flagship campus of the state system."

UMass-Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attended the news conference.

UMass will play all of its home games at Gillette Stadium for 2012 and 2013, and will play a minimum of four home games here through the 2016 season. UMass is not paying rent at Gillette, instead sharing revenue with the stadium.

A capital campaign will be undertaken to fund renovations at 20,000-seat McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

A complete report will appear in Thursday's Eagle.