As the American Athletic Conference celebrates its 10th anniversary, it enters its second decade poised to continue its remarkable ascension to national prominence.
As of midnight tonight, The American will consist of 15 prestigious institutions: the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of North Carolina Charlotte, East Carolina University, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Memphis, the United States Naval Academy (in football only), the University of North Texas, Rice University, the University of South Florida, Southern Methodist University, Temple University, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Tulane University, the University of Tulsa, and Wichita State University (in basketball and Olympic sports).
“I want to issue a warm welcome to our six distinguished schools as they officially enter our conference,” said Commissioner Mike Aresco. “UAB, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, North Texas, Rice and UTSA are going to be great additions to our powerful conference. Together with our nine outstanding incumbent universities, we will continue to elevate our brand and to make our mark on college athletics at the highest level. The 15 schools of our reinvented American Athletic Conference join together to celebrate our remarkable first decade and to look forward to the next decade with renewed determination and commitment. The future is bright.”
In the 2023-24 season, The American will be the only Division I conference to have a New Year’s Six bowl winner (Tulane) and an NCAA Men’s Final Four participant (Florida Atlantic) in its ranks. In football, The American will be one of four FBS conferences (along with the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) to have at least two 11-win teams from last year (Tulane, UTSA).
The six incoming schools combined to win 14 championships in their previous conference last year, while the nine incumbent members from the American won 13 conference titles in the 2022-23 season.
The American’s new configuration will contribute to a legacy that includes four NCAA championship teams, a College Football Playoff semifinalist, four New Year’s Six bowl champions, two NCAA Men’s Final Four participants, six Women’s Final Four Teams, a College World Series team, an NIT champion and 15 NCAA individual champions - all since the start of the 2013-14 season.
Individually, student-athletes from the incumbent schools in The American have won the National Football Foundation Campbell Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in college football, the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player, a fifth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy race, a Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete, two Academic All-America of the Year selections and a Rhodes Scholarship.
The reconfiguration of The American further concentrates the league in major metropolitan areas and recruiting strongholds. The league has four teams in the state of Texas, two each in Florida and North Carolina and one each in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma and Kansas. That results in a presence in four of the top 10, six of the top 25 and 12 of the top 52 Nielsen media markets.
It also allows for The American to enjoy a lucrative and comprehensive media rights partnership with ESPN, giving the conference a significant presence on the Worldwide Leader’s primary television networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU) and an all-sports presence on ESPN+, the industry’s leading streaming service with more than 25.3 million subscribers.
Away from the competitive arena, The American will continue to be a leader in the area of student-athlete wellness, both through the adoption of NCAA autonomous legislation on matters including full cost of attendance and nutrition. The conference, in conjunction with its Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has also launched the Powerful Minds campaign to improve awareness and education on mental health issues and recognize the scholarly achievements of the conference’s student-athletes.