American Football Wiki
American Athletic Conference
(The American)
American Athletic Conference logo
Established May 31, 1979 (as the Big East)
July 1, 2013 (reorganized as The American)
Association NCAA
Division Division I FBS
Members 11 (10 Full Members, 1 Associate Member)
12 (11 Full Members, 1 Associate Member) in 2014
13 (11 Full Members, 2 Associate Members) in 2015
Sports fielded 21 (men's: 10; women's: 11)
Region Southern (6 schools)
Northeastern (4 schools)
Midwestern (1 school)
Former names Big East (1979–2013)
Headquarters Providence, Rhode Island
Commissioner Michael Aresco (since 2013)
American Athletic Conference locations

The American Athletic Conference is a collegiate athletic conference with member institutions located in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southern regions of the United States.[1][2] The conference is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and led by Commissioner Michael Aresco.[2][3] The American participates in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I in athletic competitions; for football, it is a part of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

The majority of the conference's member institutions are located in urban metropolitan areas. The conference is one of two successors to the all-sports Big East Conference (1979–2013). While the other successor, which does not sponsor football, kept the Big East Conference name, the American Athletic Conference 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.[4][5]The prior league underwent substantial turmoil during the 2010–13 NCAA conference realignment period.

The American Athletic Conference is currently one of the six automatic qualifying conferences or AQ of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), also known as a "Power Six Conference." The conference inherited the old Big East's BCS berth for the 2013 season.[6] However, the new conference will lose its automatic berth as part of the upcoming College Football Playoff in 2014 and become a part of the "Group of Five", which shares automatic access to one spot in the six premier bowl games. The other four conferences in the group are Conference USA (C-USA), the Mid-American Conference (MAC), the Mountain West Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference.[7]


The original Big East

File:American Athletic Conference Member Locations.png

Locations of conference member universities

  • Main article: Big East Conference (1979–2013)

The original Big East Conference was founded in 1979 as a basketball conference, when Providence, St. John's, Georgetown, and Syracuse invited Connecticut, Holy Cross, Rutgers, and Boston College.[8][9] 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.[9] Villanova and Pittsburgh joined shortly thereafter under the leadership of the Big East's first commissioner, Dave Gavitt.[10][11][12]

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.[13] Rutgers and West Virginia upgraded to full Big East membership in 1995, while Virginia Tech did the same in 2000. 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.[14] The waves of defection and replacement brought about by the conference realignments of 2005 and 2010–13 revealed tension between the football-sponsoring and non-football schools that eventually led to the split of the conference in 2013.[15]

Realignment and reorganization

Template:Rellink 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). Most notably, seven schools — the Catholic 7 — announced in December 2012 that they would leave as a group, later forming the New Big East.[16]

On December 15, the Big East's seven remaining non-FBS schools, all Catholic institutions — 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[6][19]

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.[20][21] 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.[22] On April 3, 2013, the conference announced that it had chosen a new name: The American Athletic Conference.[1] It also revealed that it prefers the nickname "The American"; it was thought "AAC" would cause too much confusion with the Atlantic Coast Conference, or ACC.[23]

Louisville and Rutgers will only spend one season in the renamed conference. On July 1, 2014, Louisville will join the ACC[24] and Rutgers will join the Big Ten Conference.[25]


Name Term
Michael Aresco 2013–present[3]

Membership timeline

Template:Font color, Template:Font color, Template:Font color, Other colors = Other affiliations

Member universities

Full members

The conference currently has ten full member institutions and one associate in eight states, including Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. In 2014, The American will lose its presence in Kentucky and New Jersey but will gain a presence in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. By 2015, the conference will include eleven universities in ten states; the geographic domain of the conference will stretch from Texas to Connecticut (west to east) and from Connecticut to Florida (north to south).

Institution Location
Founded Type Enrollment Joined[26] Nickname Colors
University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
1963 Public 60,810 2013 Knights          
University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
1819 Public 44,338 2005 Bearcats          
University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
1881 Public 31,624 1979[27] Huskies          
East Carolina University Greenville, NC
1907 Public 27,511 2014 Pirates          
University of Houston Houston, TX
1927 Public 42,704 2013 Cougars          
University of Memphis Memphis, TN
1912 Public 21,480 2013 Tigers          
University of South Florida Tampa, FL
1956 Public 48,353 2005 Bulls          
Southern Methodist University Dallas, TX
1911 Private 10,929 2013 Mustangs          
Temple University Philadelphia, PA
1884 Public 37,788 1991, 2012 (football)[28]
2013 (all sports)
Tulane University New Orleans, LA
1834 Private 13,531 2014 Green Wave          
University of Tulsa Tulsa, OK
1894 Private 4,682 2014 Golden Hurricane               
  • Enrollment figures include both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Denotes schools leaving the conference effective June 30, 2014.

Associate members


Institution Location
Founded Type Enrollment Joined Sports Conference Nickname Mascot Colors
Villanova University Radnor Township, PA
1842 Private 10,482 1980 (full)
2013 (sport only)[30]
Women's Rowing Big East Conference Wildcats Will D. Cat               

Associate Members

Institution Location
Founded Type Enrollment Joining Sport Conference Nickname Mascot Colors
United States Naval Academy Annapolis, MD
1845 Federal 4,603 2015 Football Patriot League Midshipmen Bill the Goat          
  • Enrollment figures include both undergraduate and graduate students.


Template:Rellink The conference began football during the 1991–92 season, and was a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series.[31] The American teams play eight conference games a season. Conference opponents operate on a two-year cycle, as a home-and-home series.[32] The conference does not have enough teams to form divisions, but will in 2015 when Navy joins the conference.[33]

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 2004–07. 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 missed playing for the BCS National Championship.

Conference Champions

Season Champion(s) Conference
Bowl result
2013 #15 UCF 8—0 11—1 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, TBD
  • Note: UCF clinched at least a share of the 2013 American Athletic Conference football championship on November 29, 2013. AP ranking shown.
  • For football champions of the Big East Conference from 1979-2012, the precursor to The American, see this list.


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 paused - many rivalries. Before their departure to other conferences, a number of former member schools held longtime rivalries within the conference.

Some of the rivalries between The American schools include:

Rivalry Name Trophy Games played Began
Louisville–Memphis 42 1948
Cincinnati–Louisville The Keg of Nails Keg of Nails 52 1929
East Carolina–UCF 12 1991
South Florida–UCF The War on I–4 5 2005
Houston–SMU 28 1975
Navy–SMU Gansz Trophy 16 1930

Bowl games

Pick Name Location Opposing Conference Opposing Pick
1 Bowl Championship Series BCS At-Large
2 Russell Athletic Bowl Orlando, FL ACC 3
3 Belk Bowl Charlotte, NC ACC 5
4 Pinstripe Bowl Bronx, NY Big 12 7
5/6 BBVA Compass Bowl Birmingham, AL SEC 8/9
5/6 Liberty Bowl (alternate††) Memphis, TN C-USA 1
7 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg, FL C-USA 4

Future 2014-2019 Bowl games

Year Name Location Opposing Conference Opposing Pick
2014-19 Cotton, Chick-fil-A, or Fiesta* Dallas, Atlanta, or Glendale AZ CFP At Large
2014-19 BBVA Compass Bowl Birmingham, AL SEC -
2014-19 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg, FL ACC 3X, C-USA 3X -
2014-19 Miami Beach Bowl Miami, FL C-USA, MAC, or Sun Belt (2X each) -
2014-19 Military Bowl Annapolis, MD ACC -
2014/16/18 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Fort Worth, TX Big 12 2X, Army 1X (Big 12 backup) -
2014/16/18 Bahamas Bowl Nassau, Bahamas MAC 2X, C-USA 1X -
2015/17/19 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Honolulu, HI MWC -
2015/16/17/19 Boca Raton Bowl Boca Raton, FL MAC 2X, C-USA 2X -
2018/19 RL Carriers New Orleans Bowl New Orleans, LA MAC 1X, Sun Belt 1X -
2014-19 Liberty, AdvoCare V100, and Poinsettia Bowls Memphis, Shreveport, or San Diego Backup Agreement -

Notes on bowl game selection
  • The American's BCS representative is not tied directly to a specific BCS Bowl. It is selected to a bowl in the same manner as an at-large team. The BCS may select a second team to play in another BCS bowl game.
  • †† The Liberty Bowl can select a team from The American if there is not an eligible SEC opponent available.
  • For the 2014-19 bowl cycle, the American has announced tie ins to the following bowls: BBVA Compass Bowl, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Miami Beach Bowl, Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Boca Raton Bowl, Bahamas Bowl, and the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. In addition, the conference also holds secondary partnerships with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, and the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. *If the American champion is the highest ranked from among the "group of five" conferences, it will also receive a bid to either the Cotton Bowl, the Chick-fil-A Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl.


Institution Football stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball park Capacity
All-sports Members
Cincinnati Nippert Stadium
Paul Brown Stadium
Fifth Third Arena 13,176 Marge Schott Stadium 3,085
Connecticut Rentschler Field 40,000 Harry A. Gampel Pavilion
XL Center
J. O. Christian Field 2,000
East Carolina†† Dowdy–Ficklen Stadium 50,000 Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum 8,000 Clark-LeClair Stadium 5,000
Houston Houston Football Stadium 40,000 Hofheinz Pavilion 8,479 Cougar Field 5,000
Louisville Papa John's Cardinal Stadium 55,000 KFC Yum! Center 22,090 Jim Patterson Stadium 4,000
Memphis Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium 61,008 FedExForum (men)
Elma Roane Fieldhouse (women)
FedExPark 2,000
Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium 52,454 Louis Brown Athletic Center (The RAC) 8,000 Bainton Field 1,500
SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium 32,000 Moody Coliseum 8,998 Non-baseball school
South Florida Raymond James Stadium 65,908 USF Sun Dome 10,411 USF Baseball Stadium 3,211
Temple Lincoln Financial Field 68,532 Liacouras Center 10,206 Skip Wilson Field 1,000
Tulane†† Yulman Stadium 30,000 New Orleans Arena (men)
Devlin Fieldhouse (men/women)
Turchin Stadium 5,000
Tulsa†† H. A. Chapman Stadium 30,000 Reynolds Center 8,355 Non-baseball school
UCF Bright House Networks Stadium 45,323 CFE Arena 10,072 Jay Bergman Field 3,900
Associate Member
Navy††† Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium 34,000 Associate member
  • Denotes schools leaving the conference effective June 30, 2014.
  • †† Denotes schools joining the conference on July 1, 2014.
  • ††† Denotes schools joining the conference on July 1, 2015.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 New Name in College Sports - Current BIG EAST Enters New Era as 'American Athletic Conference' (2013-04-03). Retrieved on 2013-04-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Katz, Andy (2013-03-15). What's next for the 'old Big East'. "ESPN". Retrieved on 2013-03-17.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Russo, Ralph. "Big East completes official split of football, basketball", 2013-03-08. Retrieved on 2013-03-17. 
  4. American Athletic Conference history
  5. (New) Big East Conference history
  6. 6.0 6.1 McMurphy, Brett (2013-03-01). Catholic 7 to keep 'Big East' name for new league next season, according to sources. "ESPN". Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  7. Mandel, Stewart (2012-11-12). Big East, rest of 'Group of Five' score win with six-bowl decision. "Sports Illustrated". Retrieved on 2013-03-08.
  8. Blaudschun, Mark (2013-03-08). Naming original Big East was simple. Retrieved on 2013-03-09.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Crouthamel, Jake (2000-12-08). A Big East History and Retrospective, Part 1. Retrieved on 2013-03-09.
  10. Sarah Maslin Nir. "Dave Gavitt, the Big East’s Founder, Dies at 73", The New York Times, 2011-09-17. Retrieved on 2013-03-09. 
  11. "Big East, Villanova Make It Official", The Pittsburgh Press, via Google News, 1980-03-13. Retrieved on 2013-03-09. 
  12. Hanley, Richard F. "Pittsburgh To Join Big East", Record-Journal, Google News, 1981-11-19. Retrieved on 2013-03-09. 
  13. Big East Football Timeline. (March 8, 2008). Archived from the original on 2012-08-27. Retrieved on 2013-03-09.
  14. Thamel, Pete. "Commissioner John Marinatto Steps Down Amid Big East’s Instability", The New York Times, 2012-05-07. Retrieved on 2013-03-09. 
  15. "Big East 'unwilling' to meet terms", ESPN, 2013-01-03. Retrieved on 2013-03-09. 
  16. Big East fate vexes Catholic schools. ESPN (2012-12-11). Retrieved on 2012-12-11.
  17. Seven schools leaving Big East. ESPN (December 15, 2012). Retrieved on December 15, 2012.
  18. Rovell, Darren (2013-01-06). Sources: 'Catholic 7' eyes big TV deal. ESPN. Retrieved on 2013-03-06.
  19. Harten, David (2013-03-05). Catholic 7 has framework to keep Big East name, MSG as tourney site. NBC Sports. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  20. Blaudschun, Mark (2013-03-06). Big East, Catholic 7 ready to make split official. Retrieved on 2013-03-07.
  21. "Report: $100M for football schools", ESPN, 2013-03-05. Retrieved on 2013-03-07. 
  22. Former Big East to be named American Athletic Conference - ESPN. (2013-04-04). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  23. Wolken, Dan. "American Athletic Conference unveils its primary logos", USA Today, 2013-05-29. “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.” 
  25. Rutgers Scarlet Knights accept invitation to join Big Ten as Board of Governors gives go-ahead to athletic director Tim Pernetti. NY Daily News (2012-11-19). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  26. For Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, and South Florida, as well as the football program at Temple, join dates refer to the date they joined the original Big East.
  27. Connecticut's football program did not join the conference until 2004.
  28. Temple was not a Big East football member between the 2005 and 2011 seasons, most of this time being spent in the Mid-American Conference.
  29. The American Athletic Conference - Sponsored Sports. Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  30. Villanova joined the conference in 1980 but left as part of the conference breakup. As women's rowing is not a Big East sport, Villanova will participate in the American for the sport.
  31. BCS Chronology. Fox Sports. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved on November 12, 2008.
  32. Myerberg, Paul. Big East announces divisions, adds conference title game. USA Today. Retrieved on 10 December 2012.
  33. [The NCAA currently requires 12 teams for a conference to conduct divisional play and stage a championship game.]