Back in 2013, the WMU Broncos had fresh expectations. P.J. Fleck had just signed on for his first season with the team, and had gained notoriety as the youngest FBS head coach in the NCAA. According to Sports Illustrated, they were the "team you should root for" in the MAC that season.

But the season ended up being a bust for the Broncos, falling to 1-11 overall, and finishing dead last in the MAC West, only one game up on Miami (OH) in the conference, who didn't win a single game all season. But that one win was a big one, and one that the other team would like back... so much so, that they're now coming BACK to the MAC.

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It was announced earlier this week that UMass would be returning to the Mid-Atlantic Conference, but this time as a full sport participant starting in the 2025-26 academic year. The Minutemen were a partial member from 2012-2015 in football only. But now, they'll be bringing the whole squad to Kalamazoo when they play WMU through the entire athletic cycle.

It was a big move for UMass to leave their current conference, the A-10, as they were a founding member of it in 1976. However, UMass is currently the only football program from the conference in FBS-level play, and aspires to join a stronger conference for the rest of their athletic programs as well.

The only exception will be Hockey, where UMass will remain in the Hockey East conference. They won their first NCAA Hockey title in 2021, and appeared on the same side of the bracket as WMU in the 2022 tournament. So just because they aren't playing hockey in the same conference, doesn't mean they won't be facing each other from time to time.


81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic - Western Michigan v Wisconsin
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WMU vs. UMass All-time Records

Historically, Western Michigan and UMass haven't played much. The Broncos have a 2-0 record in football against the Minutemen, including that close 31-30 win in 2013... and that's only because they were conference foes for that short 4-year period.

Because UMass has been playing in lower-level leagues for most of its existence, and weren't full MAC members previously, the possibility of meeting between the two schools has been very infrequent. UMass's Men's basketball team does have some significant history in the Men's NCAA tournament that WMU doesn't. OFFICIALLY, they've appeared eight times, with one Elite Eight run in 1995. WMU has only ever made the tournament four times with a shot to the Sweet 16 in 1976.

UMass did have a deep run to the Final Four in 1996, but that season was wiped from the NCAA record books, and their Final Four appearance removed due to star Marcus Camby admitting he accepted items from an agent during the season.

So in another academic year, the MAC will officially have 13 teams, and a new team for Western to size up and challenge every season on the field, as well every other sport this time around, too.

Welcome Minutemen... and good luck. #GoBroncos

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