PHILADELPHIA -- Temple's football program has found a home, accepting an offer to join the Mid-American Conference, looking for a fresh start for a team with little history of success.
The Owls will join the MAC as a full member in 2007. An official announcement is scheduled for Tuesday.
"When our presidents and our membership have gone through the process of membership evaluation, we really look for an institutional fit," MAC commissioner Rick Chryst said. "I think that's what we have here. There's excitement about time and circumstance bringing us together."
The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team. Still, that didn't deter the MAC.
"I don't have any doubt that Temple will be competitive and a contributor," said Chryst, who will be in Philadelphia for the official announcement.
The football team will play the next two seasons as an independent, though the Owls will likely add more MAC teams to their schedule for those two seasons. Temple is to play MAC teams Toledo, Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) in 2005.
The rest of Temple's athletic teams will remain in the Atlantic 10, where the school has been since 1982. No other A-10 school plays Division I-A football.
Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw was unavailable for comment.
The Owls were overmatched in the Big East and haven't had a winning record since going 7-4 under Jerry Berndt in 1990. They went 2-9 last season and are 19-60 in seven seasons under coach Bobby Wallace.
Though Wallace said during the season the Owls would be a perfect fit for the MAC, the Owls lost to two of those mid-major teams in 2004: 45-17 at Toledo and 70-16 against Bowling Green.
Temple hasn't been to a bowl game since 1979 and has had five one-win seasons since 1992. The Owls spent most of the last two decades without a permanent home and crowds were as sparse as the victories.
Temple created a task force last summer that studied the viability of keeping the football program around and decided in January the program would remain at the Division I-A level.
The MAC was impressed with Temple's attempts to spruce up the program. The Owls built a state of the art practice facility at their north campus that opened in 2001 and reached a deal before the 2003 season with the Philadelphia Eagles to play all home games at Lincoln Financial Field.
"The group that went to Temple was impressed with the foundation that was in place," Chryst said. "We were impressed with the people and how they've handled what's been a very difficult situation the last three or four years."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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