The UMass football team fell well below attendance estimates during the 2012 season, and if it fails to reach 15,000 in “actual average attendance” during the 2013 football season, the program will be placed on probation for 10 years, according to an NCAA press release.
“... UMass and South Alabama failed to satisfy the actual or paid 15,000 attendance requirement over a rolling two-year period for FBS schools. Their move to the FBS will be contingent upon having 15,000 in actual average attendance in the 2013 football season. If the requirement is not met, the schools will receive a notice of noncompliance and enter a 10-year probationary period,” the NCAA said, in its August 8 release.
While the release did not define what probation entails, John Sinnett, UMass' director of media relations, and Emily Potter, an NCAA spokeswomen, clarified the issue for the Maroon Musket.
Should UMass not have an actual attendance average of 15,000 or more during the 2013 period, the NCAA will give the university notice that it is on probation for 10 years. If, during the 10-year span, an institution misses the attendance requirement during a rolling, two-year cycle, it “could become restricted members” under NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52.2., according to Potter.
An institution in a restricted membership is not eligible for postseason football and will be given one year to meet the requirement. If the mark isn't hit during the year of restricted membership, the program can be reclassified and would be forced to go back through the transition process again, according to Sinnett.
“With that said, we are excited to be officially recognized as an FBS member and understand that this, among other requirements, are applicable to all members of the Football Bowl Subdivision,” Sinnet said. “We are prepared for the year and fully expect to be in compliance with the requirement.”
In UMass' first season as an FBS program, it averaged 10,901 per game.