DeFlavio said it may be difficult persuading fans to follow the Minuteman if they are losing to lesser-known MAC opponents such as Kent State and Miami of Ohio.
“Is it a risk? Sure,’’ DeFlavio said of the upgrade. “But if we can build a good winning record, people will go and they will give.’’
By moving up a division, UMass can increase the number of football scholarships it awards to 85 from 63. Under gender equity rules, the school also must fund an additional 22 athletic scholarships for women, which will benefit every women’s sport that has not already reached its scholarship limit, McCutcheon said. Football revenues will pay for the additional women’s scholarships.
As for the marching band, the upgrade means the musicians will perform at fewer road games because of the travel expenses to Gillette. It also means that everyone from the drum majors to the sousaphonists will be wondering, along with the rest of the UMass community, how the experiment will unfold.
“All of us are excited about the challenges, but we’re also anxious,’’ Anderson said. “We’re interested to see how it goes.’’
Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.