Six schools set to join the American Athletic Conference


Joseph Barringhaus

The American Athletic Conference tournement trophy sits in the concourse of the FedExForum before Wichita State’s semifinal game against Cincinnati on March 16, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus / The Sunflower.)

The American Athletic Conference announced the addition of six new universities — Florida Atlantic University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Texas, University of Texas at San Antonio, Rice University and University of Alabama at Birmingham — to the conference on Thursday.

“We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams. And we will continue to provide valuable inventory to our major media rights partner, ESPN, which will feature our members on the most prominent platforms in sports media. Additionally, we increase the value in live content options for CBS Sports, which features selected men’s basketball games from the conference.”

All six schools come to the American from Conference USA, but no date has been set for the schools to join the conference.

The AAC is replacing Cincinnati, UCF and Houston, which left the conference to join the Big 12 last month. According to AAC bylaws, those schools’ exit date would be July 1, 2024, but it is likely those schools will pay an increased exit fee so they will leave prior to the 2023 season.

The six universities will join the nine continuing members – East Carolina, Memphis, Navy (football only), South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (basketball and Olympic sports only) — to bring The American’s membership to 15 schools. The American will compete as a 14-team league in football and in men’s and women’s basketball, among other sports.

“On behalf of the American Athletic Conference presidents, I look forward to years of healthy competition with our six new members,” Chair of The American’s Board of Directors Michael Fitts said. “I am confident that we have not only added fine institutions that share our collective ambition for national success, but we have done so in a deliberate and sensible way that will contribute to the long-term future of the conference.”