Temple has been granted its immediate release from the MAC and will pay a $6 million fee to leave for another conference, the school and league announced in a joint statement Wednesday.
The Owls are set to join the Big East, sources told ESPN.com. A Big East news conference to introduce a new member has been set for later this afternoon in New York. Temple coach Steve Addazio, athletic director Bill Bradshaw and Board of Trustees Chairman Lewis Katz are all scheduled to attend.
“Temple University requested to be released from its obligation, as a football-only member of providing two season’s prior notice before departing the Mid-American Conference," MAC commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher said in a statement. "As a result, the conference and its member institutions engaged in a dialogue with Temple regarding an appropriate resolution. We have come to an agreement that is fair to the parties involved.
“As a result, the Mid-American Conference has adjusted its football divisional alignment. Bowling Green State University will compete in the East Division that will consist of seven member institutions. The West Division will have six members. The eight-game conference schedule should be released within several weeks.”
UMass begins play in the MAC this season, so that means the league remains at 13 teams despite Temple's departure. The MAC has played with 13 teams since 2007., so it is used to an unbalanced divisional alignment. When asked about whether the MAC would try to get to 14 teams with Temple's departure, Steinbrecher said in a brief phone interview:
"It's too soon to make any determinations. We'll be very deliberate. There's no reason to rush into anything. We'll sit back and examine the landscape. We'll observe, we'll think strategically as a league and if there are moves that make sense that strengthen or improve us, we'll make those moves."
Bowling Green moves back to the East, where it has traditionally played. The Falcons were moved to the West to make room for UMass.
“We never left the East on the playing field so nothing changes from our standpoint,” Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said in a statement. “Regardless of division we still play eight MAC opponents, but all things being equal we would prefer to remain in the East with our traditional Ohio MAC rivals, as well as continuing the ‘Battle of I-75’ with Toledo.”
Here is the MAC divisional alignment:
East Division: Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Kent State, UMass, Miami (Ohio), Ohio
West Division: Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Michigan