Dec 18, 2021; Shreveport, LA, USA; UAB Blazers running back DeWayne McBride (22) breaks a tackle against the BYU Cougars linebacker Max Tooley (31) during the fourth quarter during the 2021 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Six schools to join AAC for 2023-24 season

Six schools will join the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2023, the conference announced Wednesday. The universities already had been accepted as members but the entry date had yet to be finalized.

Joining ahead of the 2023 fall sports season are UAB, FAU, Charlotte, North Texas, Rice and UTSA. The timing coincides with the departure of current member schools Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12 next summer.

“We are extremely pleased and excited to welcome our new members to the conference in 2023, as we begin our second decade,” commissioner Mike Aresco said in a news release. “Our incoming schools comprise a distinguished group with attributes that will enhance our conference’s Power 6 goals. We have already seen the investment and commitment that these institutions have made as they prepare to compete in The American, and, together with our accomplished incumbent institutions, the conference is assured of many years of championship-level competition as part of a bright future that will build on the extraordinary legacy of the past decade.”

The conference switches were triggered earlier this year when Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference. That left openings to fill in the Big 12, triggering team shifts across the country.

The American will have 15 schools, though not every school will compete in a full complement of sports.

The league will be made up of the six new teams, plus East Carolina, Memphis, Navy (football only), South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (basketball and Olympic Sports only).

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) instructs Cincinnati Bearcats tight end Josiah Deguara (83) in the first quarter of an NCAA football game against the UCLA Bruins, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

Ucla Bruins At Cincinnati Bearcats Aug 29

AAC, 3 teams agree on 2023 departure date

Cincinnati, UCF and Houston will join the Big 12 in the 2023 fall seasons under an agreement reached with the American Athletic Conference.

The three schools announced last year that they were heading to the Big 12 but when remained the question mark. AAC commissioner Mike Aresco announced Friday that the conference’s member institutions voted to end the membership of the three schools effective July 1, 2023.

The schools had been expected to join the Big 12 no earlier than July 2024. The earlier date was settled after an undisclosed financial settlement, Cincinnati.com reported.

“All three institutions enjoyed tremendous success under the American Athletic Conference banner, and all three were instrumental in taking the conference to great heights, both athletically and academically,” Aresco said. “We wish them the best and look forward to having them compete in our conference in 2022-23.”

BYU also is joining the conference in 2023.

The announcement last year that Texas and Oklahoma would move to the Southeastern Conference in 2025 set off a chain reaction in college sports. With the Big 12 moving to replace those two programs and expand, other conferences then underwent a shift in membership and numbers.

With Cincinnati, Houston and UCF joining the Big 12, the American will add FAU, North Texas, Rice, Charlotte, UAB and UTSA.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) raises the championship trophy following the American Athletic Conference championship football game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bearcats won, 27-24.

Aac Championship Tulsa Golden Hurricane At Cincinnati Bearcats Football Dec 19

Six C-USA schools accept invitations to join AAC

The American Athletic Conference announced Thursday that six schools from Conference USA have accepted invitations to join the AAC.

No timetable has been set Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA to move to the AAC, but ESPN reported that the 2023-24 season would be the earliest date.

The realignment will boost the AAC membership to 14 teams in football and basketball, while leaving C-USA with eight members.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade. We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams.”

The AAC is replacing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, which were all accepted to join the Big 12 last month.

Conference USA rules call for a departure fee of around $3 million per school, according to Yahoo Sports.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; A detailed view of a football on the field during the second half between the Miami Dolphins and the Indianapolis Colts at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: 6 C-USA schools apply to join AAC

Six Conference USA teams are bidding to join the American Athletic Conference, according to multiple media reports.

Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA filed applications to the AAC, ESPN reported Tuesday. News of the six schools’ interest in changing conference was initially reported Monday by Yahoo Sports.

The prospective moves continue the shifting landscape of college sports conferences. The latest round of moves began when Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

The Big 12 subsequently agreed to add Cincinnati, Houston and UCF (all from the AAC) as well as BYU (a football independent but a member of the West Coast Conference in most other sports).

The AAC currently features 11 football schools, but the departure of the three universities to the Big 12 plus the potential addition of six Conference USA schools would bring the membership to 14. The AAC has Navy as a football-only program, while Wichita State is an AAC member for most sports but does not field a football team.

According to ESPN, the six potential new AAC programs would join the conference no sooner than the 2023-24 season. In addition, if the AAC doesn’t agree to a waiver of its requirement for 27 months’ notice for exiting programs, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF would remain in the conference through the 2023-24 season.

Conference USA rules call for a departure fee of around $3 million per school, according to Yahoo Sports.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) is sacked by Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive tackle Jayden Jernigan (42) during the second half at Albertsons Stadium. Oklahoma State won 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Report: 4 Mountain West teams won’t jump to AAC

Four schools thought to be candidates to jump to the American Athletic Conference will stay put in the Mountain West Conference, USA Today reported Friday.

The schools — Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State — reportedly had been pursued by the AAC.

Now, the AAC will have to come up with a Plan B to return to full capacity. The AAC is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12 in the next few years and will be left with just eight football schools among its members.

USA Today said UAB, Charlotte, North Texas and UTSA could be considered for expansion.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco issued a statement Friday that said his conference hadn’t extended any official invitations.

“The American Athletic Conference has not offered membership to any institution,” Aresco said. “Our process for considering potential members remains deliberate, strategic and focused on the continued proven success of our conference.”

Invitations typically are issued only once a school signals it would accept one.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

AAC targeting Boise State, UAB, others for expansion

The American Athletic Conference has identified potential candidates, most from the Mountain West, to join the league after the announced exodus of three teams to the Big 12, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

At the top of the AAC’s wish list are Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State, along with UAB of Conference USA.

The conference is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma began the chain reaction of moves with their announcement that they will join the Southeastern Conference in 2025.

The CBS report said the AAC likely will be looking to add four teams to bring the number of members to 12, with Boise State the most coveted addition based on the strength of its football program. CBS reported last week that Boise State, as well as Memphis, also could be top targets for the Big 12 should it choose to expand to 14 teams.

The AAC also has a second tier of teams it could pursue if it is spurned by any of its preferred teams, per the report. It includes FAU and UTSA from Conference USA.

BYU, an independent in football and a Mountain West member in the other sports, is joining the Big 12 in 2023, with the AAC teams expected on board by July 1, 2024.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2019; Waco, TX, USA; A view of the Baylor Bears logo and the Big 12 conference logo on an end zone pylon during the game between the Baylor Bears and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 officially accepts BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF

The Big 12 unanimously approved the addition of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in a vote of conference presidents and chancellors on Friday.

The vote involved eight of the 10 schools currently in the conference. Texas and Oklahoma, which have been accepted to join the Southeastern Conference by July 1, 2025, did not participate.

Each school is expected to formally vote to accept the offer later Friday.

BYU already issued a statement saying it would join the Big 12 in the 2023-24 season. University president Kevin J. Worthen called Friday “a historic day for BYU Athletics — and for the entire university,” and he said joining the Big 12 will allow student-athletes “to compete at the highest level.”

Representatives from existing Big 12-member schools were quick to welcome the new schools into the fold.

“The Big 12 Conference has been among the best football leagues in the country for the past 25 years,” Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy said. “The addition of these four programs will allow us to introduce our brand of football to fans in new locations. I welcome the new conference members and look forward to competing against them while maintaining competition with our longstanding league members. We have the best of both worlds.”

While BYU is leaving the West Coast Conference — the Cougars are an independent in football — the American Athletic Conference will have three fewer members. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are the top football schools in the conference.

Under AAC bylaws, the schools must give a 27-month notice and pay a $10 million buyout. If they are to join BYU in the conference in 2023, the schools and the league will have to negotiate.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco issued a statement Friday that said it was logical the Big 12 would want to snap up Cincinnati, Houston and UCF and vowed the move won’t diminish his conference.

“Today’s news confirms what we have said all along regarding our status as a power conference. The irony that three of our schools are being asked to take the place of the two marquee schools which are leaving the Big 12 is not lost on us,” he said. “Our conference was targeted for exceeding expectations in a system that wasn’t designed to accommodate our success.”

He continued: “Our remaining schools are unwavering in their commitment to competing and succeeding at the highest level and we will not allow external factors to put a ceiling on our potential. We remain unified and resolute and will consider all of our options as we move The American into our second decade and beyond.”

The departure of the three schools will leave the AAC with eight full members. The Big 12 could, for a time, have 14 members if all four additions come on board before Oklahoma and Texas shift to the SEC.

–Field Level Media

Dec 23, 2019; Tampa, Florida, USA; Central Florida Knights linebacker Nate Evans (44) reacts during the third quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

AAC approves 8-game conference slate beginning Sept. 19

The American Athletic Conference announced Wednesday that it will play an eight-game conference schedule for football that is slated to begin Sept. 19.

Schools will also have the ability to schedule nonconference games. The league said those decisions will be left up to the individual schools.

The league said it will hold its conference championship game on either Dec. 5, 12 or 19 at the home of the regular-season champion.

The date is flexible depending on events involving the COVID-19 pandemic and on whether or not Navy is a game participant. The annual Army-Navy contest is scheduled for Dec. 12.

“With the guidance of the health experts on the COVID-19 Medical Advisory Board and through the diligent work of the athletics staffs at our schools and at the conference, we have a sensible direction for the return of intercollegiate athletics in the fall,” said AAC board of directors chairman M. David Rudd, who is the president of Memphis.

“The safety of our students, staff members and campus communities will continue to be our top priority. We are confident that the protocols put together by our Medical Advisory Group will guide a safe return to play. As medical information evolves, we will update our plans in conjunction with national, state and local guidelines.”

A 10-game conference schedule was studied but ultimately passed over for the eight-game slate.

Central Florida is among the teams looking to add nonconference games. Athletic director Danny White told reporters on a video call that he would like to play 12 games this season.

UCF currently has games against two ACC members in North Carolina and Georgia Tech on the schedule, but the ACC is limiting schools to one nonconference game and isn’t yet clear if both games will remain on the Knights’ schedule.

UCF also has a home game against Florida International on the slate. Another game, against Florida A&M, could still work out despite that school’s league — the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference — postponing fall sports.

Florida A&M is investigating playing as an independent this season. The university is leaving for the Southwestern Athletic Conference for the 2021-22 school year.

“I wish we were more coordinated in college football, that we had better communication,” White said. “The last month has probably shown we need to get more organized nationally in college football.

“The lack of communication across the board has been challenging for people to make decisions. If anything, I’m grateful that we’re finally at a place where we can start to make decisions where we can figure this thing out.”

In addition to Memphis, Navy and UCF, the other schools in the 11-team league are Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.

–Field Level Media