Daniel Sipocz

What was old is new again for the Mid-American Conference.

Northern Illinois women's volleyball coach Ray Gooden confirmed the conference will limit the MAC Tournament to eight teams starting in the 2011 season. A change of location is also expected. These decisions were the result of a vote held by athletic directors Friday.

"I talked to my athletic director on Tuesday, and he told me he was sorry the vote didn't go the way I wanted it," Gooden said. "The tournament next year will have a different look and feel to it."

The new format returns the MAC to its roots. One of the previous incarnations of the conference tournament was an eight-team tournament.

The decision to make the change goes against the wishes of a majority of coaches in the MAC. Many expressed the desire to give everyone an opportunity to play for the automatic NCAA Tournament bid.

"I'd prefer us to just leave it alone," Miami coach Carolyn Condit said prior to the athletic directors' vote last week.

Some preferred other alterations to the tournament format. One proposal provided a day off for the players to recover. Instead, the MAC Tournament will stick with its three games in three days format.

"It's always been a really tough tournament to win with three games in three days," Gooden said. "I would have liked to see a day off somewhere in there."

Ball State women's volleyball coach Steve Shondell won't be available to comment until the MAC makes the changes official. Multiple attempts to reach Ball State athletic director Tom Collins were unsuccessful as well.

"We're still in the process of finalizing everything," Jeff Bacon, associate commissioner for championships and sport programs, said. "Until all the contracts are signed I can't comment further."

Bacon said the official announcement will happen within the month.

The new eight-team field will no longer play a first round at campus sites.

The MAC will also announce a new location for the conference tournament. The SeaGate Centre, a convention center in Toledo, Ohio, which has served as the host of the tournament the past six years, won't have its contract renewed.

A new site near Cleveland — where the MAC headquarters are located — will also be announced.

"The mission is still the same," Gooden said. "We're still trying to get to the NCAA Tournament."