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April 18, 2024

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GOING WEST

After weeks of speculation and rumors, the Bowling Green football team officially announced its move from the Mid-American Conference East Division to the West Division Friday.

The official change will begin next August with the start of the football and volleyball seasons and will be inclusive of all University teams competing in the MAC.

“I think you have to be willing to move forward instead of looking back,” said Athletic Director Paul Krebs at a press conference on Friday. “From the larger perspective we want to continue to have our league geographically aligned.”

The announcement came just days after Central Florida joined the MAC as a football-only member, giving the conference 14 football teams.

Although the league had preferred to bring in a 14th full-fledged conference member, according to Krebs, adding a team for football was most important because the sport plays less games than the others.

“You have some ways to minimize those problems in a 16-game schedule and an 18-game schedule,” Krebs said.

Krebs said the league will most likely look into adding a 14th member for its other sports sometime in the near future.

With an even number of teams in the conference for football will make it so that teams in both divisions will be playing the same number of in-conference games.

“In the sport of football not all issues are resolved in terms of league scheduling,” Krebs said. “The assumption is we’re going to play eight (conference) games.”

According to Krebs, the University would not have been willing to switch divisions for one sport and not the rest.

Miami University and Ohio University were other options to move from the east to the west, but after months of discussions the league determined the University to be the best option.

“Geographically it worked,” said Gary Richter, assistant commissioner of media relations for the MAC. “We wanted to keep the traditional rivals in the league as active as possible.”

The switch will put BGSU in the same conference as its main rival, The University of Toledo.

“Now Bowling Green and Toledo will both be competing for a West Division championship,” Richter said.

Krebs said rivalries in the other sports will remain intact after the divisional change.

Kent State, Ohio University and Miami University are three of the top east division rivals for the men’s basketball team. According to Krebs, those teams should remain on the schedule as often as they have in the past.

“We’ve been given assurance by the commissioner in terms of scheduling to help protect those rivalries,” he said.

Moving from the east to the west will also cut down on travel time for the University athletic teams.

Schools such as a Buffalo and Marshall, which are in the east division, are five-hour trips. While the University will still play those schools, they will be playing the closer schools in the west more often.

Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, The University of Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ball State are all in the west.

“It will help our students in getting to class the day after games,” said Dan Schmitz, manager of the baseball team.

Schmitz said moving to the west was the right decision and that it should not really have much affect on his team.

“What ever is best for the conference is what we’re willing to do,” he said. “It’s a great conference, so it doesn’t matter if we’re in the east or the west.”

Overall, Krebs said the divisional switch will be beneficial for all parties involved.

“I think we realized this was a step forward for the league. It works well for BGSU,” Krebs said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think the league’s getting better; we’re getting better. I’m excited about going to the west.

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