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MAC bracing for more power going to major conferences

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 11:40 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, July 24, 2014 8:34 a.m. CST
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(Phil Burwell – Mid-American Conference)
Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher speaks at MAC media day Wednesday at Ford Field in Detroit.

DETROIT – Soon, there should be a change in the landscape in terms of NCAA governance.

The projected upcoming change will likely give the power five conferences autonomy when it comes to voting legislation on numerous issues.

Mid-American Conference commisioner Jon Steinbrecher realizes that change is coming, and at Wednesday's MAC football media day, he said he expects the vote to pass in August.

"Clearly an area of legislative autonomy has been carved out for five conferences. This provides them with the ability to enact permissive legislation for all of Division I, focused primarily in the area of student-athlete well-being," Steinbrecher said. "We are headed toward the redefinition of a grant and aid, so it may include the full cost of attendance."

Steinbrecher said that while he's supportive of the full cost of attendance, he does not support paying student-athletes.

Steinbrecher said the focus should be on things like the number of hours student-athletes devote to their sports.

"I am not sure we've done a very good job of enforcing the existing 20-hour rule. We should examine if it is healthy, for in the summer time, for our student-athletes to have a dead period, where they get away from campus," Steinbrecher said. "Whether it's to go take an internship, or travel, go home or just flat out get away from campus, get away from coaches and do something else."

New bowl lineup: There will be a new feel to the conference's postseason outlook this season, as the league debuts three new bowl games – the Boca Raton, Bahamas and Camellia Bowl games.

The new lineup gives the MAC a total of five bowl partners, with the others being the GoDaddy and Famous Idaho Potato Bowls. The MAC also has an agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. The GoDaddy will have the first pick among MAC teams this postseason, while the league and the other games will determine teams based on matchups and other aspects.

"We're trying to arrange the best matchups we can," Steinbrecher said. "We want to try and rotate our teams through as many of the bowls that we can so you're not going to the same place every other year, but that you have the chance to experience the depth and the breath of our bowl selections."

Lemon close to returning: Northern Illinois linebacker Rasheen Lemon, who was suspended indefinitely in September, could be back on the team in time for the first practice of the season on Aug. 2, NIU head coach Rod Carey said Wednesday. Carey said Lemon was suspended due to an academic issue, but is close to returning. The coach sounded hopeful he'll be back in time for fall camp.

"Any time a guy runs into an issue with graduation and academics, we take that so seriously that we're going to make sure that that's right," Carey said. "He's getting closer."

Lemon started the first two games at outside linebacker last season.

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