ATHLETICS: MAC commish says conference will be ready if college landscape gets shakeup

Plan in place if Big Ten expansion forces change

Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a conference call Tuesday that the MAC would be able to move quickly if necessary to handle a changing college sports landscape.

With the Big Ten moving closer to announcing a much anticipated expansion of the league, conferences across the country are preparing for a potential major shakeup.

"We are continually asking the question of ‘Are the right people out there?'" Steinbrecher said. "It's an ongoing thing. If the opportunity arose, we would act on it."

Steinbrecher would not elaborate on internal conversations about expansion, or if the MAC had discussed the possibility of Temple University becoming more than just a football-only member.

The Owls signed a six-year contract in 2005 and began playing in the MAC in 2007. With the recent revival of Temple's football program and a perennial basketball power, it could be a target for expansion by larger conferences.

Even when pressed for a definitive position on the issue, Steinbrecher backed away.

"We're very pleased they're a part of our league," he said.

The MAC also has faced the challenge in recent years of attempting to raise the profile of men's basketball across the conference. Steinbrecher said he saw encouraging signs this year of a turnaround in that area, especially with Ohio University's upset of Georgetown University in the NCAA Tournament.

Steinbrecher believes one of the ways to improve MAC basketball is to schedule more home games. He wouldn't commit to more monetary support from the conference to help bring teams into the MAC venues.

"I'm looking forward to the chance to sitting down with our head coaches at spring meetings," he said. "We've got to figure out ways to play more home games."

Steinbrecher said he believes the recent expansion of the NCAA men's basketball tournament to 68 teams was a good idea, and is glad it didn't go to 96 teams. He believes the expansion could be good for MAC basketball.

"I'm comfortable with that," he said. "Expansion by three teams seems like a pretty good deal for all involved."