MAC offers Central Florida full membership

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 2, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Mid-American Conference extended an invitation of full membership to Central Florida on Wednesday.

The invitation would become effective if the Big East Conference's planned expansion does not include any MAC schools.

The Golden Knights joined the MAC as a football-only member last season, after 23 years as an independent. Seventeen of the school's other teams compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Rowing is an independent.

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The Big East, looking to stem the damage from losing Miami and Virginia Tech to the Atlantic Coast Conference, is considering a number of schools for admission. One of those schools is MAC football power Marshall.

UCF athletic director Steve Orsini said the school is considering the offer.

''We have a great deal of respect for the institutions in the MAC and have already reaped great benefits from our short affiliation as a football member in the conference,'' Orsini said.

Northern Illinois President John Peters, chairman of the MAC Council of Presidents, said UCF would add to the conference's stability and strength and that the school shares academic and athletic values with current MAC members.

If UCF joins the MAC, it would be admitted into the conference's East Division with Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Marshall, Miami and Ohio.

The Knights would compete in a full regular-season schedule with eligibility for MAC championships, the league's football bowl bids and its automatic NCAA tournament bids in women's volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball.