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MAC commissioner has plenty of work ahead

DETROIT – There are tough economic times all around and plenty of decisions to be made, including what to do with the Temple football program.

Welcome to your first year in the Mid-American Conference, commissioner Jon Steinbrecher.

At the MAC media football day at Ford Field in Detroit, Steinbrecher addressed some of those concerns but also highlighted some of the steps forward the MAC has taken since Steinbrecher took over for Rick Chryst.

• On bowl partnerships...

"We have secured our three existing bowl partnerships. We've extended those out for the next five years, so we have secured those. Currently we are not pursuing any additional contractual partnerships, but we will continue to pursue at-large berths and perhaps consider some secondary arrangements."

• On Temple's football agreement with the MAC and bringing football to an even number of teams (13 currently)...

"We've got to have that discussion with Temple. I was on their campus this week for the first time. I clearly laid out our options. You can allow the contract to expire and you re-up the contract. If you do that you better start to look to bring some balance to the league. That's a question that's got to be answered. We've certainly started that discussion. I won't put a timetable on when we'll have an answer but it's clearly in front of us.

• On the economy...

"The question is, have we seen the bottom or not? And I'm not sure we have in part because generally state budgeting and state revenue and things tend to lag a year behind. That's clearly, I just came out of a directors of athletics meeting and we were talking about cost containment and strategic directives and they're so closely linked and I think it comes down to us very clearly defining our priorities."

• On the midweek football games and the eight-year ESPN agreement he inherited...

"To me, it's really not an issue. It's how do we set up schools so they can promote it as well as they can so they can generate good attendance and those types of things. Those are slots that are available for us and we're going to make them work."

• On the conference basketball tournaments...

"We're going back to a basketball tournament format with first-round games at campus sites, which is familiar to this conference. We have a directive coming from our [university] Presidents that by 2012 we want to have two stand-alone neutral site events. So clearly we're going to be out looking for a partnership with a community for the women's tournament. [Toledo] expressed strong interest, but we couldn't get the pieces in place in time. We'll continue sessions with them and also with a number of folks as well.

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