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Eastern Michigan will face Pittsburgh in the 2091 Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26, 2019

Detroit Free Press

The Mid-American Conference is making drastic changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning in the 2020-21 academic year, conference tournaments for eight sports will be eliminated, while men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and seven other sports will undergo postseason adjustments, the MAC announced Tuesday. 

Baseball, softball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis field hockey and women’s lacrosse will send their regular-season winners to the NCAA tournaments.

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Nine other sports — most notably basketball — will feature abbreviated postseason tournaments in the 12-team conference.

“There will be alternations in formats for nine other championships – volleyball (four-team), men’s basketball (eight-team), women’s basketball (eight-team), men’s swimming & diving (three-day), women’s swimming & diving (three-day), men’s indoor and outdoor track & field (two-day), women’s indoor and outdoor track & field (two-day), men’s golf (two-day) and women’s golf (two-day),” the conference statement said.

Only the top eight teams will make the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, held at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. The conference will also abandon divisions for the regular season and expand that schedule from 18 to 20 games.

Baseball and softball will play 30-game regular-season schedules.

The plan covers four years and will be evaluated as the economic impact of the coronavirus unfolds. Additional reductions will be made in the overall postseason budget. 

[ WMU athletics to cut $6 million from budget; football coach Tim Lester has salary slashed ]

On March 12, the MAC canceled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in Cleveland. Later that day, the conference nixed all remaining practices and athletic competitions for winter and spring sports.

Football will not be affected by the changes.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold