Steinbrecher named new MAC commish

Updated: March 16, 2009, 5:07 PM ET
By Graham Watson | ESPN.com

The Mid-American Conference announced Monday that Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher will replace Rick Chryst as the league commissioner.

Steinbrecher spent the past six years as commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference. Prior to the OVC, he served as commissioner of the Mid-Continent Conference (now known as the Summitt League). He has more than 15 years of experience in Division I athletics.

"Jon has a superior background at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics," Western Michigan University president John M. Dunn, chair of the search committee, said in a statement released by the conference. "He is a proven talent, an innovative thinker, with excellent administrative and academic credentials. Clearly, Dr. Steinbrecher shares the same values as the member institutions and its student-athletes, and he will continue our tradition as one of the nation's premier conferences."

Steinbrecher takes over at a time when the MAC is on a bit of an upswing. The conference is riding the coattails of the success of Ball State's 12-2 football season, and it recently renewed its television deal with ESPN.

But the conference is also facing ridicule from other conferences that have been dismayed by the MAC's scheduling problems. In 2007, the MAC had several teams overscheduled, which forced several MAC schools to either buy out opponents or bump them to future schedules.

Currently, Miami-Ohio has come under fire after dropping Colorado because it had too many non-conference games scheduled. The Redhawks are in the process of finding an opponent for the Buffaloes, but that might compromise other schedules within the conference.

Neither Miami athletics director Brad Bates nor Colorado athletics director Mike Bohn would talk about the situation until the MAC schedule was officially released. The MAC has not given a timetable on that release. But this year's scheduling snafu, as well as past incidents, have caused some athletic directors to steer clear from scheduling MAC teams altogether.

Chryst, who served as the MAC commissioner since 1999, announced in late January that he was stepping down when his contract runs out June 30.

Graham Watson covers college football for ESPN.com.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.