Chryst quits as MAC commish

Published 1:38 am Friday, January 30, 2009

Mid-American Conference Commissioner Rick Chryst is leaving the conference he has led since 1999.

The MAC announced Thursday that Chryst is stepping down when his contract runs out June 30.

The 47-year-old Chryst is the third-longest serving commissioner in the 63-year history of the Cleveland-based conference.

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In a statement released by the league, Chryst said he decided the time was right for him both personally and professionally to make a change. He didn’t say what he plans to do next. He didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message.

The MAC has retained an executive search firm to help find a replacement.

Chryst oversaw the move of the conference headquarters from Toledo to Cleveland in 1999.

Over the past 10 years, the MAC has grown to 13 teams for football and 12 for basketball. It began its men’s and women’s basketball tournament at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena and its football championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.

The conference has also increased its television exposure at national, regional and local levels, mostly through a relationship with ESPN since 1999. The MAC recently reached a new eight-year agreement for football and men’s and women’s basketball that guarantees the conference a minimum of 25 events annually on one of ESPN’s networks.

MAC football has never been healthier or more competitive.

Since 1999, the MAC has 38 nonconference wins over schools from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences and seven wins over nationally ranked teams. The four victories over Big Ten teams in 2008 were the most the conference has ever had.