Notebook: UMass seeks ESPN’s help in filling out 2016 football schedule

Last modified: Saturday, March 21, 2015
AMHERST — While UMass searches for a new athletic director, the school is set to utilize the services of ESPN’s Dave Brown to help fill the 2016 football schedule.

UMass needs to add at least three home games for that season. According to athletic department sources, the school has approached the ESPN vice president for college sports programming to help serve as a scheduling matchmaker of sorts. Brown has provided similar help to other schools needing scheduling assistance.

Former athletic director John McCutcheon and former assistant athletic director Garrett Waller did most of the work scheduling football games. But Waller left for Rhode Island last year and McCutcheon left to become the AD at California-Santa Barbara earlier this month.

Before McCutcheon left, he was in discussions with ESPN to broadcast UMass home games online at ESPN3 during the school’s seasons as an independent. The Minutemen are scheduling under the expectation of being an independent for the 2016-18 seasons.

NCAA rules mandate that schools play at least five home games. UMass could apply for a waiver for that season because of the short window to complete that schedule after the Mid-American Conference forced the Minutemen to choose between putting all of their sports in the MAC or leaving as a football-only member.

UMass has only two home games scheduled for 2016, Sept. 10 vs. Connecticut and Sept. 24 vs. Rhode Island. Both of those are contracted to be held at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The Minutemen have road games at Boston College, Old Dominion, Appalachian State, Troy and Hawaii.

DeFILIPPO NOT A CANDIDATE — Former Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo squashed rumors that he’s a candidate for UMass’ vacancy.

The Northampton native said he hadn’t heard from UMass and wouldn’t be interested.

“I’m not interested in being an athletic director again,” said DeFilippo Thursday.

He retired from Boston College in 2012.

WILLIAMS A CANDIDATE? — Sources familiar with UMass’ search said Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams is someone the search committee is interested in to fill the school’s vacancy.

The New Jersey native played football at UMass, where he graduated with a sport management degree in 1992. He earned his master’s degree from Boston College and spent 61/2 years as UConn’s associate athletic director where he worked in “strategic planning, facility master planning, and policy and procedure improvement and was the chair of the University of Connecticut’s Sportsmanship/Fan Environment Initiative Committee,” according to his Kennesaw bio.

SEASON-OPENING BYE — UMass is expected to release its full 2015 football schedule Friday afternoon. The Minutemen open the season on Sept. 12 at Colorado. That’s one week later than most teams as their bye week is Sept. 3, when most teams open their season.