|American Athletic Conference|
|Established||May 31, 1979[note 1]|
|Former names||Big East (1979-2013)[note 2]|
|Headquarters||Providence, Rhode Island|
|Commissioner||Michael Aresco (since 2012)|
The American Athletic Conference (also known as The American and sometimes abbreviated AAC) is an American collegiate athletic conference, featuring 12 member universities and three associate member universities that compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) Division I, with its football teams competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Member universities represent a range of private and public universities of various enrollment sizes located primarily in urban metropolitan areas in the Northeastern, Midwestern, Western, and Southern regions of the United States.
The American's legal predecessor, the original Big East Conference, was considered one of the six collegiate power conferences of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era in college football, and The American inherited that status in the BCS's final season. With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, The American became a "Group of Five" conference, which shares one automatic spot in the New Year's Six bowl games.[note 3]
The league is the product of substantial turmoil in the old Big East during the 2010-14 conference realignment period. It is one of two conferences to emerge from the all-sports Big East in 2013. While the other successor, which does not sponsor football, purchased the Big East Conference name, The American inherited the old Big East's structure and is that conference's legal successor. However, both conferences claim 1979 as their founding date, and the same history up to 2013. The American is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and led by Commissioner Michael Aresco.
The Big East Conference was founded in 1979 as a basketball conference and included the colleges of Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, and Syracuse, which in turn invited Connecticut (UConn), Holy Cross, Rutgers, and Boston College to be members. UConn and Boston College would accept the invitation, while Holy Cross soon thereafter declined the invitation, and Rutgers eventually declined and remained in the Atlantic 10 Conference (then known as the Eastern 8 Conference). Seton Hall was then invited as a replacement, and the conference started play with seven members.
The conference remained largely unchanged until 1991, when it began to sponsor football, adding Miami as a full member, and Rutgers, Temple, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia as football-only members. Rutgers and West Virginia were offered full all-sports Big East membership in 1995, while Virginia Tech waited until 2000 for the same offer. Temple football was kicked out after the 2004 season, but rejoined in 2012 and intended to become a full Big East member in 2013.
The unusual structure of the Big East, with the "football" and "non-football" schools, led to instability in the conference. The waves of defection and replacement brought about by the conference realignments of 2005 and the early 2010s revealed tension between the football-sponsoring and non-football schools that eventually led to the split of the conference in 2013.
The conference was reorganized following the tumultuous period of realignment that hobbled the Big East between 2010 and 2013. The Big East was one of the most severely impacted conferences during the most recent conference realignment period. In all, 14 member schools announced their departure for other conferences, and 15 other schools announced plans to join the conference (eight as all-sports members, and four for football only). Three of the latter group later backed out of their plans to join (one for all sports, and the other two for football only).
On December 15, 2012, the Big East's seven remaining non-FBS schools, all Catholic institutions consisting of DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Villanova announced that they voted unanimously to leave the Big East Conference effective June 30, 2015. The "Catholic 7", by leaving, were looking for a more lucrative television deal than the one they would receive by remaining with the football schools. In March 2013, representatives of the Catholic 7 announced they would leave the conference effective June 30, 2013, retaining the Big East name, $10 million, and the right to hold the conference's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden.
Following the announcement of the departure of the Catholic 7 universities, the remaining ten football-playing members started the process of selecting a new name for the conference and choosing a new site to hold its basketball tournament. Various names were considered, with the "America 12" conference reportedly one of the finalists until rejected by college presidents sensitive of adding a number to the end of the conference name. On April 3, 2013, the conference announced that it had chosen a new name: American Athletic Conference. The conference also revealed that it prefers the nickname "The American" because it was thought "AAC" would cause too much confusion with the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Louisville and Rutgers spent one season in the renamed conference. On July 1, 2014, Louisville joined the ACC and Rutgers joined the Big Ten Conference. On that same day, East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa joined The American for all sports, while Sacramento State and San Diego State joined as associate members for women's rowing. Navy joined as an associate member in football on July 1, 2015.
For the next several years, The American did not discuss the addition of any new members. However, in March 2017, media reports indicated that the conference was seriously considering adding one or more new members specifically as basketball upgrades. Wichita State, Dayton, and VCU were reportedly considered, with Wichita State being seen as the strongest candidate. By the end of that month, it was reported that talks between the American and Wichita State had advanced to the point that the two sides were discussing a timeline for membership, with the possibility of the Shockers joining as a full but non-football member as early as the 2017-18 school year. The report indicated that a final decision would be made in April. The conference's board of directors voted unanimously on April 7 to add Wichita State effective in July 2017, making the Shockers the league's first full non-football member since the Big East split.
The conference currently has 12 full member institutions - and three associate members - in 12 states, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. The newest full member, Wichita State, is the only one that does not sponsor football.
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, Florida||1963||2013||66,000||Knights|
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||1819||2005||44,338||Bearcats|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs, Connecticut||1881||1979[note 4]||32,027||Huskies|
|East Carolina University||Greenville, North Carolina||1907||2014||27,511||Pirates|
|University of Houston||Houston, Texas||1927||2013||42,704||Cougars|
|University of Memphis||Memphis, Tennessee||1912||2013||21,480||Tigers|
|University of South Florida||Tampa, Florida||1956||2005||48,353||Bulls|
|Southern Methodist University||University Park, Texas||1911||2013||10,929||Mustangs|
|Temple University||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||1884||1991, 2012[note 5]||37,788||Owls|
|Tulane University||New Orleans, Louisiana||1834||2014||13,531||Green Wave|
|University of Tulsa||Tulsa, Oklahoma||1894||2014||4,682||Golden Hurricane|
|Wichita State University[note 6]||Wichita, Kansas||1895||2017||14,495||Shockers|
|California State University, Sacramento||Sacramento, California||1947||2014||28,811||Hornets||Rowing||Big Sky|
|San Diego State University||San Diego, California||1897||2014||29,392||Aztecs||Rowing||Mountain West|
|United States Naval Academy||Annapolis, Maryland||1845||2015||4,400||Midshipmen||Football||Patriot League|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida||1853||2018||51,474||Gators||Women's lacrosse||SEC|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, Tennessee||1873||2018||12,686||Commodores||Women's lacrosse||SEC|
Two full members have departed from the conference.
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, New Jersey||1766||1991[note 7]||2014||66,013||Scarlet Knights||Big Ten|
|University of Louisville||Louisville, Kentucky||1798||2005||2014||22,529||Cardinals||ACC|
One associate member has left the conference.
Former AAC Sport
|Villanova University||Villanova, Pennsylvania||1842||2013||2015||10,735||Wildcats||Rowing||Big East||CAA|
The American currently sponsors championship competition in 10 men's and 11 women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Sacramento State and San Diego State are associate members for women's rowing. Conference members who sponsor women's lacrosse and field hockey compete as associate members of the Big East through the 2017-18 school year, with the exception of East Carolina's startup women's lacrosse program, which is playing its first varsity season in 2018 as an independent. Beginning in 2018-19, The American will sponsor women's lacrosse.
Under NCAA rules reflecting the large number of male scholarship participants in football and attempting to address gender equity concerns (see also Title IX), each member institution is required to provide more women's varsity sports than men's.[note 8]
|Swimming & Diving||
|Track and Field (Indoor)||
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||
|Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools:
|School||Ice hockey||Rifle[note 10]||Rowing[note 11]|
|Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
|San Diego State||N||N||N||N||N||N||N||N||N||N||1|
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools:
|Bowling||Fencing||Field Hockey||Equestrian||Gymnastics||Ice hockey||Lacrosse||Rifle[note 10]||Sailing|
|Connecticut||--||--||--||Big East||--||--||Hockey East||Big East||--||--|
|Temple||--||--||NIWFA||Big East||--||Independent||--||Big East||--||--|
Excluded from this list are all national championships earned outside the scope of NCAA competition, including Division I FBS football titles, women's AIAW championships, equestrian titles, and retroactive Helms Athletic Foundation titles.
|School||Total||Men||Women||Co-ed||Nickname||Most successful sport (Titles)|
|University of Connecticut||22||6||16||0||Huskies||Women's basketball (11)|
|University of Houston||17||17||0||0||Cougars||Men's golf (16)|
|U.S. Naval Academy||5||5||0||0||Midshipmen||Men's Fencing (3)|
|Southern Methodist University||4||4||0||0||Mustangs||Men's outdoor track & field (2)|
|Temple University||3||1||2||0||Owls||Women's lacrosse (2)|
|University of Cincinnati||2||2||0||0||Bearcats||Men's basketball (2)|
|Tulane University||1||1||0||0||Green Wave||Men's tennis (1)|
|University of Tulsa||1||0||1||0||Golden Hurricane||Women's golf (1)|
|Wichita State University||1||1||0||0||Shockers||Baseball (1)|
|University of South Florida||0||0||0||0||Bulls||n/a|
|University of Central Florida||0||0||0||0||Knights||n/a|
|East Carolina University||0||0||0||0||Pirates||n/a|
|University of Memphis||0||0||0||0||Tigers||n/a|
The conference began football during the 1991-92 season, and was a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series. Previously conference opponents operated on a two-year cycle, as a home-and-home series.
|West Division||East Division|
The conference previously did not have enough teams to form divisions, but now does after Navy joined the conference in 2015.[note 12] When Navy joined in 2015 and divisions were created, Navy was placed in the West division along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, and Tulsa. Teams play eight conference games a season. Since 2015, each team has played the other five teams in its own division, as well as three teams from the other division, operating in a four-year cycle ensuring that each school will play every conference opponent at home and on the road at least once in the four-year cycle. The East and West division winners, determined by final conference record, meet in the American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game, which is played at the home site of one of the division winners.
Like the conference itself, football experienced much transition through its history - in fact it was the main force behind such departures and expansion. In 2003, the BCS announced that it would adjust the automatic bids granted to its six founding conferences based on results from 2004 to 2007. With the addition of Cincinnati, Louisville, and South Florida in 2005, the conference retained its BCS automatic-qualifying status. In 2007, South Florida rose to No. 2 in the BCS rankings, but finished No. 21 in the final poll. Cincinnati finished the 2009 regular season undefeated at 12-0, and ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings, barely missing the opportunity to play for the BCS National Championship. The conference was 9-7 (.563) in BCS bowl games, the third highest winning percentage amongst the AQ conferences.
|W||L||T||Win %||W||L||Win %|
The American Championship Game pits the Eastern Division representative against the Western Division representative in a game held following the conclusion of the regular season. The site of the Championship Game is the home stadium of the division champion with the best overall conference record. In the event that the two division champions are tied, then the head-to-head record shall be used as the tiebreaker. Prior to the 2015 season, when the conference split into two six-team divisions and created a conference championship game, The American awarded its championship to the team(s) with the best overall conference record.
|Year||Champions||Conference||Overall||AP||Coaches'||Bowl result||Head coach|
|2013||UCF||8-0||12-1||#10||#12||W Fiesta Bowl 52-42 vs. Baylor+||George O'Leary|
|2014||UCF||7-1||9-4||N/A||N/A||L St. Petersburg Bowl 27-34 vs. NC State||George O'Leary|
|Cincinnati||7-1||9-4||N/A||N/A||L Military Bowl 17-33 vs. Virginia Tech||Tommy Tuberville|
|Memphis||7-1||10-3||#25||#25||W Miami Beach Bowl 55-48 vs. BYU||Justin Fuente|
|2015||Houston||7-1||13-1||#8||#8||W Peach Bowl 38-24 vs. Florida State+||Tom Herman|
|2016||Temple||7-1||10-3||#23||#24||L Military Bowl 26-34 vs Wake Forest||Matt Rhule|
|2017||UCF||8-0||13-0||#6||#7||W Peach Bowl 34-27 vs Auburn||Scott Frost|
The American has many rivalries among its member schools, primarily in football. Some rivalries existed before the conference was established or began play in football. Recent conference realignment in 2005 and 2013 ended - or temporarily halted - many rivalries. Before their departure to other conferences, a number of former member schools held longtime rivalries within the conference.
|Teams||Rivalry Name||Trophy||Meetings||Began||Record||Series leader||Current Streak|
|East Carolina-UCF||--||--||13||1991||10-5-0||East Carolina||UCF won 1|
|Navy-SMU||--||Gansz Trophy||16||1930||9-7-0||Navy||Navy won 5|
|Houston-SMU||The Burrito Bowl||Burrito Bowl||31||1975||20-10-1||Houston||Houston won 3|
|South Florida-UCF||War on I-4||War on I-4 Trophy||9||2005||6-3-0||South Florida||UCF won 1|
|Houston-Tulsa||Teh Rivalry||The Gazebo||39||1950||21-18-0||Houston||Tulsa won 1|
|UCONN-UCF||The Civil ConFLiCT||Diaco Trophy||5||2013||3-2||UCF||UCF won 2|
Following the 2013 season, the BCS era came to a close and was replaced by the College Football Playoff. Four teams will play in two semifinal games, with the winners advancing to the new College Football Championship Game. Six bowl games -- the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Peach Bowl -- will rotate as hosts for the semifinal games, and host major bowls when they do not host semifinal games (access bowls).
With the birth of the College Football Playoff, The American lost its automatic qualifying status for one of the major bowls. Instead, one automatic qualifying spot is reserved for the highest ranked team from the "Group of Five" conferences - The American, Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference, and Sun Belt Conference.
Although the pick order usually corresponds to the conference standings, the bowls are not required to make their choices strictly according to the won-lost records; many factors influence bowl selections, especially the likely turnout of the team's fans. Picks are made after any applicable College Football Playoff selections. If a team is selected for the one of the access bowls or playoff, the bowl with the No. 2 pick will have the first pick of the remaining teams in the conference.
|2014-19||Cotton, Peach, Fiesta, or Playoff[note 13]||Dallas, Atlanta, Glendale, or Playoff Site||CFP At-Large|
|2014-19||Birmingham Bowl||Birmingham, Alabama||SEC|
|2014-19||Gasparilla Bowl||St. Petersburg, Florida||ACC or C-USA|
|2014-19||Frisco Bowl[a]||Frisco, Texas||C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt, or BYU|
|2014-19||Military Bowl||Annapolis, Maryland||ACC|
|2014/16/17/19||Armed Forces Bowl||Fort Worth, Texas||Big 12 or Army|
|2016/18||Bahamas Bowl||Nassau, Bahamas||MAC or C-USA|
|2015-19||Cure Bowl||Orlando, Florida||Sun Belt|
|2015/17/19||Hawai?i Bowl||Honolulu, Hawaii||MWC or BYU|
|2015/16/17/19||Boca Raton Bowl||Boca Raton, Florida||MAC or C-USA|
|2018-19||New Orleans Bowl||New Orleans, Louisiana||MAC or Sun Belt|
|2014-19||Liberty and Independence Bowls[b]||Memphis, Shreveport||ACC or SEC (Backup Agreement)|
These listings are accurate for the most recently completed 2017 season. Coaches in bold italics are no longer employed at American member schools; both left after the 2017 season for head coaching positions at Power Five schools.
|1||Southern Methodist University||Morris, ChadChad Morris||$2,600,000|
|2||Temple University||Collins, GeoffGeoff Collins+||TBA|
|3||University of Cincinnati||Fickell, LukeLuke Fickell+||$1,900,000|
|4||United States Naval Academy||Niumatalolo, KenKen Niumatalolo||$2,250,000|
|5||University of South Florida||Strong, CharlieCharlie Strong+||$5,000,000+|
|6||University of Memphis||Norvell, MikeMike Norvell||$1,800,000+|
|7||University of Central Florida||Frost, ScottScott Frost||$2,000,000+|
|8||University of Connecticut||Edsall, RandyRandy Edsall+||$1,000,000+|
|9||University of Houston||Applewhite, MajorMajor Applewhite+||$1,500,000+|
|10||Tulane University||Fritz, WillieWillie Fritz||$1,500,000+|
|11||East Carolina University||Montgomery, ScottieScottie Montgomery||$1,250,000+|
|12||University of Tulsa||Montgomery, PhilipPhilip Montgomery||$1,400,000|
Coaches and media of The American award individual honors at the end of each football season.
In June 2013, it was announced that the inaugural men's basketball tournament will take place at FedExForum in Memphis. FedExForum had previously hosted eight Conference USA basketball tournaments.
Even though the Big East Conference was meant to be a basketball-oriented conference, UConn, a member of The American, won the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament (the first after the conferences split).
This list goes through the 2016-17 season.
|No.||Team||Records||Win Pct.||The American
|2013-14||Louisville||31-6 (15-3)||#5||#9||NCAA Sweet Sixteen||Louisville||31-6||#5||#9||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|Cincinnati||27-7 (15-3)||#15||#22||NCAA Second Round|
|2014-15||SMU||27-7 (15-3)||#18||RV||NCAA First Round||SMU||27-7||#18||RV||NCAA First Round|
|2015-16||Temple||21-12 (14-4)||NR||NR||NCAA First Round||Connecticut||25-10 (11-7)||RV||RV||NCAA Second Round|
|2016-17||SMU||30-4 (17-1)||#12||# 15||NCAA First Round||SMU||30-4||#12||#15||NCAA First Round|
In June 2013, it was announced that the inaugural women's basketball tournament would take place at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Women's basketball teams have played a total of 20 times in the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship (since 1982), with UConn winning 11 national championships under head coach Geno Auriemma since 1995. Women's national championship tournaments prior to 1982 were run by the AIAW.
This list goes through the 2016-17 season.
|No.||Team||Records||Win Pct.||The American
|2013-14||Connecticut||40-0 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||Connecticut||40-0 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2014-15||Connecticut||38-1 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||Connecticut||38-1 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2015-16||Connecticut||38-0 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||Connecticut||38-0 (18-0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2016-17||Connecticut||36-1 (18-0)||#1||#1||Final Four||Connecticut||36-1 (18-0)||#1||#1||Final Four|
|Institution||Football stadium||Capacity||Basketball arena||Capacity||Baseball stadium||Capacity|
|Cincinnati||Nippert Stadium||40,000||Fifth Third Arena[a]||13,176||Marge Schott Stadium||3,085|
|Connecticut||Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field||42,704||Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
|J. O. Christian Field
Dunkin' Donuts Park
|East Carolina||Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium||50,000||Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum||8,000||Clark-LeClair Stadium||5,000|
|Houston||TDECU Stadium||40,000||Hofheinz Pavilion[b]||8,479||Cougar Field||5,000|
|Memphis||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium||59,308||FedExForum (men)
Elma Roane Fieldhouse (women)
|South Florida||Raymond James Stadium||65,908||USF Sun Dome||10,411||USF Baseball Stadium||3,211|
|SMU||Gerald J. Ford Stadium||32,000||Moody Coliseum||7,000||Non-baseball school|
|Temple||Lincoln Financial Field||68,532||Liacouras Center
McGonigle Hall (women)[c]
|Tulane||Yulman Stadium||30,000||Smoothie King Center (men)
Devlin Fieldhouse (men/women)
|Tulsa||H. A. Chapman Stadium||30,000||Reynolds Center||8,355||Non-baseball school|
|UCF||Spectrum Stadium||45,323||CFE Arena||9,465||Jay Bergman Field||3,600|
|Wichita State||Non-football member[d]||Charles Koch Arena
Intrust Bank Arena
|Navy||Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium||34,000||Associate member|
One of the current member schools, Tulane University, is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. Seven members are doctorate-granting universities with "very high research activity," the highest classification given by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Member schools are also highly ranked nationally and globally by various groups, including U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and Times Higher Education.
|University||Location||Affiliation||Carnegie||Endowment||USN Nat.||WM Nat.||URAP U.S.|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, Florida||Public (SUSF)||Research (VH)||$135,500,000||176||211||114|
|University of Cincinnati||Cincinnati, Ohio||Public (USO)||Research (VH)||$1,183,922,000||135||191||57|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs, Connecticut||Public||Research (VH)||$436,900,000||60||81||94|
|East Carolina University||Greenville, North Carolina||Public (UNC)||Doctoral||$164,065,000||210||171||69|
|University of Houston||Houston, Texas||Public (UH System)||Research (VH)||$789,700,000||194||68||104|
|University of Memphis||Memphis, Tennessee||Public (TBR)||Research (H)||$200,750,000||RNP||37||188|
|University of South Florida||Tampa, Florida||Public (SUSF)||Research (VH)||$447,000,000||159||78||72|
|Southern Methodist University||University Park, Texas||Private (Methodist)||Research (H)||$1,466,258,000||56||260||164|
|Temple University||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Public (CSHE)||Research (VH)||$386,758,000||118||195||108|
|Tulane University||New Orleans, Louisiana||Private (non-sectarian)||Research (VH)||$1,183,924,000||39||100||112|
|University of Tulsa||Tulsa, Oklahoma||Private (Presbyterian)||Doctoral||$1,015,474,000||86||164||297|
|Wichita State University||Wichita, Kansas||Public (KBOR)||Doctoral||$235,500,000||RNP (Tier 2)||233||258|
Beyond the challenge of avoiding something that looked corporate, the league also couldn't build the logo around an acronym. From the very beginning, the conference office has been adamant that it wants to be known as The American instead of the AAC to avoid confusion with the Atlantic Coast Conference.