The American Athletic Conference (The American or AAC) is an American collegiate athletic conference, featuring 11 member universities and six 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, 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.The other conferences in the "Group of Five" are Conference USA (C-USA), the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Mountain West Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference. 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 Irving, Texas, and led by Commissioner Michael Aresco.


The Big East

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. Villanova and Pittsburgh joined shortly thereafter under the leadership of the first Big East commissioner, Dave Gavitt. 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 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 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.

Realignment and reorganization

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). To restate and clarify a somewhat confusing series of events: on July 1, the original Big East changed its name to the American Athletic Conference, while the "Catholic 7" split off and joined Butler, Creighton, and Xavier to form a "new" Big East. While The American is reckoned as the original conference and the "new" Big East is considered a spinoff, the "new" Big East retained the rights to the original Big East logo, trademarks, and men's basketball tournament. Louisville and Rutgers spent one season in the newly 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.

Addition of Wichita State

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.

Departure of Connecticut

On June 21, 2019, a Boston-area sports news website, ''Digital Sports Desk'', revealed that UConn was expected to announce by the end of the month that it would leave the American for the Big East Conference in 2020. The story was picked up by multiple national media outlets the next day. The main issue that reportedly had to be resolved prior to any official announcement was the future of UConn football, as the Big East does not sponsor that sport, and sources indicated that the American had no interest in retaining UConn as a football-only member. Reportedly, American Conference insiders were not surprised by UConn's prospective move, as that school had been vigorously opposed to that league's most recently announced television deal. National media believed that should UConn leave the American, the conference's likeliest response would be to bring in two new schools—one for football only and a second in non-football sports, similar to the American's sequential additions of Navy and Wichita State. The most likely prospects for football-only membership were seen as Army (currently an FBS independent, with most of its other sports in the Patriot League), and Air Force (currently an all-sports member of the Mountain West Conference). Any of several schools could potentially fill the non-football slot, with Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports considering VCU to be "the most logical target there." Thamel dismissed the prospect of the American adding a new all-sports member, saying "there's no obvious candidate who could add value in both basketball and football." On June 24, 2019, it was reported that the Big East had formally approved an invitation for UConn to join the conference. On June 26, 2019, the UConn Board of Trustees accepted the invitation and they are expected to join the league for the 2020–2021 season. On July 26, media reports indicated that UConn and The American had reached a buyout agreement that confirmed UConn's Big East arrival date as July 1, 2020, paying the American a $17 million exit fee. It was widely reported that UConn was "rejoining" the Big East, given that the Huskies would be reunited with many of the schools against which it played for three decades in the original Big East. Indeed, UConn was the last charter member of the old Big East still playing in The American.

Added stability

The American took a number of steps to stabilize the conference after the departure of UConn. The first move was the addition of Old Dominion University as an associate member in women's lacrosse for the 2020–21 season. Old Dominion was previously added to The American for women's rowing beginning in the 2018–19 season. The American moved their headquarters from Providence, Rhode Island to Irving, Texas. This was a planned move, to better centralize the conference offices with the member schools. Irving is in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, which is also home to the headquarters of the Big 12 Conference, College Football Playoff, and the National Football Foundation. The conference also moved the men's basketball tournament to the region, to be played at the new Dickies Arena until 2022. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some member schools have eliminated sports due to budget constraints. The University of Cincinnati eliminated its men's soccer program while East Carolina University canceled men and women's swimming and diving teams and tennis teams. Women's rowing member San Diego State University dropped that sport effective with the end of the 2020–21 season.


Membership timeline

ImageSize = width:1000 height:auto barincrement:20 Period = from:2013 till:2022 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal PlotArea = right:20 left:0 bottom:50 top:5 #> to display a count on left side of graph, use "left:20" to suppress the count, use "left:20"<# Colors = id:barcolor value:rgb(0.99,0.7,0.7) id:line value:black id:bg value:white id:Full value:rgb(0.631,0.616,0.741) # Use this color to denote a team that is a member in all sports id:FullxF value:rgb(0.551,0.824,0.777) # Use this color to denote a team that is a member in all sports except for football id:AssocF value:rgb(0.98,0.5,0.445) # Use this color to denote a team that is a member for football only id:AssocOS value:rgb(0.5,0.691,0.824) # Use this color to denote a team that is a member for another sport only id:OtherC0 value:rgb(0.996,0.996,0.699) # Use this color to denote a team that has moved in another conference id:OtherC1 value:rgb(0.988,0.703,0.383) # Use this color to denote a team that has moved in another conference when the other color has already been used DateFormat = yyyy AlignBars = justify PlotData = width:15 textcolor:black shift:(5,-5) anchor:from fontsize:s bar:1 color:Full from:2013 till:end text:Cincinnati (2013—present) bar:2 color:Full from:2013 till:2020 text:Connecticut (2013—2020) bar:2 color:OtherC0 from:2020 till:end text: Big East bar:3 Color:Full from:2013 till:end text:Houston (2013—present) bar:4 color:Full from:2013 till:2014 text:Louisville (2013—2014) bar:4 color:OtherC0 from:2014 till:end text: ACC bar:5 Color:Full from:2013 till:end text:Memphis (2013—present) bar:6 color:Full from:2013 till:2014 text:Rutgers (2013—2014) bar:6 color:OtherC0 from:2014 till:end text: Big Ten bar:7 Color:Full from:2013 till:end text:SMU (2013—present) bar:8 color:Full from:2013 till:end text:South Florida (2013—present) bar:9 color:Full from:2013 till:end text:Temple (2013—present) bar:10 color:Full from:2013 till:end text:UCF (2013—present) bar:11 color:AssocOS from:2013 till:2015 text:Villanova (Women's rowing, 2013–2015) bar:12 color:OtherC0 from:2013 till:2014 text:C-USA bar:12 color:Full from:2014 till:end text:ECU (2014—present) bar:13 color:OtherC0 from:2013 till:2014 text:C-USA bar:13 color:Full from:2014 till:end text:Tulane (2014—present) bar:14 color:OtherC0 from:2013 till:2014 text:C-USA bar:14 color:Full from:2014 till:end text:Tulsa (2014—present) bar:15 color:AssocF from:2015 till:end text:Navy (2015—present) bar:16 color:AssocOS from:2015 till:2021 text:San Diego State (Women's rowing, 2015—2021) bar:17 color:OtherC0 from:2013 till:2017 text:Missouri Valley bar:17 color:FullxF from:2017 till:end text:Wichita State (2017—present) bar:18 color:AssocOS from:2018 till:end text:Florida (Women's lacrosse, 2018—present) bar:19 color:AssocOS from:2018 till:end text:Old Dominion (Women's rowing, 2018—present; Women's lacrosse, 2020-present) bar:20 color:AssocOS from:2018 till:end text:Vanderbilt (Women's lacrosse, 2018—present) ScaleMajor = gridcolor:line unit:year increment:1 start:2013 TextData = fontsize:L textcolor:black pos:(0,30) tabs:(500-center) text:^"American Athletic Conference Membership History"

Member universities

The conference currently has 11 full member institutions – and six associate members – in 12 states, including California, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The newest full member, Wichita State is the only one that does not sponsor football.

Current members

Associate members

Departing associate San Diego State, which will drop women's rowing at the end of the 2020–21 season, highlighted in red.

Former full members

Three full members have departed from the conference.

Former associate members

One associate member has left the conference.


The American currently sponsors championship competition in 10 men's and 12 women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Old Dominion, Sacramento State and San Diego State are associate members for women's rowing, though San Diego State will drop the sport at the end of the 2020–21 school year. The newest conference sport of women's lacrosse, added for the 2018–19 school year, has six participating schools. As of the current 2021 college lacrosse season, three full American members participate along with associate members Florida, Old Dominion, and Vanderbilt. Florida and Vanderbilt are American members only in that sport, while Old Dominion added women's lacrosse to its previously existing women's rowing membership in 2020. 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.Under NCAA Bylaw 20.9.4, all Division I schools are required to sponsor a minimum of seven men's and seven women's sports, or six men's and eight women's sports. Bylaw imposes the latter requirement on FBS schools. FCS schools, under Bylaw, may use either requirement. Note that this does not explicitly require that a school sponsor two more women's sports than men's sports. See

Men's sponsored sports by school

Men's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools:

Women's sponsored sports by school

Women's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools: * Women's Bowling – The Southland Conference provides administrative support for the Southland Bowling League, but the SBL operates independently from regular conference operations. The women's bowling league was established in 2015 and includes Southland Conference members Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, plus Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Tulane, Valparaiso, Vanderbilt, and Youngstown State.

Conference champions

NCAA team championships

Excluded from this list are all national championships earned outside the scope of NCAA competition, including Division I FBS football titles, Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association titles, women's AIAW titles, National Collegiate Equestrian Association titles, and retroactive Helms Athletic Foundation titles. See also: List of NCAA schools with the most NCAA Division I championships, List of NCAA schools with the most Division I national championships, and NCAA Division I FBS Conferences


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. The conference previously did not have enough teams to form divisions, but now does after Navy joined the conference in 2015.At the time Navy joined in football, the NCAA required 12 teams for a conference to conduct divisional play and stage a championship game that was exempt from the NCAA-imposed limit of 12 regular-season games. Starting with the 2016 season, a conference can conduct an "exempt" championship game with fewer than 12 members, as long as it either plays in two divisions or conducts a full round-robin schedule. 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. With the departure of UConn after the 2019 season, divisions were affected by the reduction to an uneven number of teams. The American has no immediate plan to add another team to rebalance division, so divisions have been eliminated from the conference for the time being. The championship game will now be played by the two teams that achieved the best record in regular season conference play. 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. After the 2017 Season, the University of Central Florida Knights, a member of the American, went undefeated but was not invited to the College Football Playoff. They earned the Group of Five's New Years Six bowl bid and defeated Auburn in the Peach Bowl. They would claim a national championship, which was recognized by the Colley Matrix, one of the NCAA recognized selectors of the national champion in football.

All-time school and conference records

As of the conclusion of the 2019 season. Conference wins and losses are since the formation of The American.

Football champions

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. * BCS or NY6 Bowl Game


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. ''Records as of the end of the 2020 season.''

Bowl games

Following the 2013 season, the BCS era came to a close and was replaced by the College Football Playoff. Four teams play in two semifinal games, with the winners advancing to the College Football Playoff National Championship. 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.

Head football coach compensation

The total pay of head coaches includes university and non-university compensation. This includes base salary, income from contracts, foundation supplements, bonuses and media and radio pay. * New hire ''Records as of the end of the 2020 season.''

Conference individual honors

Coaches and media of The American award individual honors at the end of each football season.

Men's basketball

In June 2013, it was announced that the inaugural men's basketball tournament would 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).

All-time school records by winning percentage

This list goes through the 2019–20 season. Source

American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball NCAA Bids

This list goes through the 2020–21 season. Only current American Conference members are included. However, this list covers the entire histories of basketball at the listed institutions, not just their American Conference tenures.

Men's basketball champions


The American has many rivalries among its member schools, some of which existed before the conference was established. 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. ''Results as of the 2019–20 season.''

Women's basketball

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.

All-time school records by winning percentage

This list goes through the 2016–17 season.

Women's basketball champions



One of the current full 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''.


In March 2019, the conference announced a $1 billion, 12-year media rights deal with ESPN, under which the majority of AAC content will be aired on ESPN properties. Selected basketball games and Navy football are sub-licensed to CBS Sports, as Navy had a previous deal with CBS prior to joining The American. Content not aired on linear television will be exclusive to ESPN's subscription package ESPN+, but a larger number of events (including at least 40 football games and 65 men's basketball games per-season, including the conference semi-finals and championship) will air on ABC and ESPN's linear networks than under the previous contract.

See also

* List of NCAA conferences * Big East Conference (2013–present) * Big East Conference (1979–2013)



External links

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