American Athletic Conference
The American Athletic Conference (also known as "The American" or "AAC") is a big college sports conference in the United States. Its members play in NCAA Division I. In football, they play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; known before 2006 as Division I-A), the higher of two levels of Division I football.
The American has its roots in the original Big East Conference. That conference was started in 1979 as a basketball-first league by a group of schools in the Eastern U.S. The Big East added football in 1991. That led to years of conflict between schools that played I-A/FBS football and those that did not. In July 2013, the Big East split into two conferences. The seven schools that did not play FBS football left to form a new Big East Conference. The FBS schools that did not go to other conferences stayed in the old conference structure. Along with several new members, they began operating as the American Athletic Conference.
The American kept the original Big East charter. That makes it the legal successor of the old Big East. However, both The American and the new Big East claim 1979 as their founding dates. Both also claim the pre-split history of the old Big East, at least in corporate terms. However, both leagues agreed that the current Big East would maintain the sporting history of the original conference in most sports. The only exceptions are football and women's rowing, the only two sports sponsored by The American but not the current Big East. In those two sports, neither offshoot league recognizes the history of the original Big East.
Of the 14 current full members (those that house most of their sports in the league), only Wichita State does not have a football team.
During a major conference realignment triggered in 2021 when Big 12 Conference mainstays Oklahoma and Texas announced they would move to the Southeastern Conference no later than 2025, The American was heavily affected. The Big 12 then raided The American, inviting Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF to join that conference, with their arrival date eventually set for 2023. In turn, The American raided Conference USA, inviting six members of that conference to move to The American in 2023—Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA. Later in the realignment cycle, SMU announced it would leave The American for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2024. The American would replace SMU for football with Army, which will join as a football-only member at the same time that SMU leaves.
Departing members highlighted in pink.
- For Cincinnati and South Florida, plus the Temple football program, dates are when they joined the original Big East.
- Five of the six members that joined in 2023 were American Conference members in select sports in 2022–23:
- Charlotte and UAB were members in men's soccer.
- Florida Atlantic was a member in men's soccer and women's swimming & diving.
- North Texas and Rice were members in women's swimming & diving, although Rice fields swimmers only and no divers.
- Temple's football team was kicked out of the old Big East after the 2004 season, but came back in 2012.
- Non-football member.
Associate members change
As of the 2023–24 school year, The American has eight "associate members" that play one or two sports in the conference. Departing associates are highlighted in pink.
|Joined||Sport||Current main conference||Nickname|
|University of Cincinnati[a]||Cincinnati, Ohio||1819||Public||2023[b]||Women's lacrosse||Big 12 Conference||Bearcats|
|Florida International University (FIU)||University Park, Florida||1965||Public||2022||Men's soccer
Women's swimming & diving
|University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida||1853||Public||2018||Women's lacrosse||Southeastern Conference||Gators|
|James Madison University||Harrisonburg, Virginia||1908||Public||2022||Women's lacrosse||Sun Belt Conference||Dukes|
|United States Naval Academy (Navy)||Annapolis, Maryland||1845||Federal||2015||Football||Patriot League||Midshipmen|
|Old Dominion University||Norfolk, Virginia||1930||Public||2018||Women's rowing||Sun Belt Conference||Monarchs|
|California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State)||Sacramento, California||1947||Public||2014||Women's rowing||Big Sky Conference||Hornets|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, Tennessee||1873||Private||2018||Women's lacrosse||Southeastern Conference||Commodores|
Future associate member change
One school will join The American as a single-sport member in 2024.
|Joining||Sport||Current main conference||Nickname|
|United States Military Academy (Army)||West Point, New York||1802||Federal||2024||Football||Patriot League||Black Knights|
- Cincinnati will leave American Conference women's lacrosse after the 2024 season for its main home of the Big 12 Conference, which will start a women's lacrosse league in the 2024–25 school year.
- Measured from Cincinnati's departure for the Big 12 Conference.
Former members change
Two schools left The American after spending only the 2013–14 school year in the renamed conference. Before 2013, both had been members of the original Big East. A third school left The American in 2020 to rejoin most of its historic all-sports rivals in the current Big East. Three more schools left for the Big 12 in 2023, one of which stayed in The American for women's lacrosse only.
|University of Louisville||Louisville, Kentucky||1798||Public||Cardinals||2005||2014||ACC|
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, New Jersey||1766||Public||Scarlet Knights||1991 (football)
1995 (all sports)
|University of Connecticut (UConn)||Storrs, Connecticut||1881||Public||Huskies||1979[a]||2020||Big East|
|FBS independent (football)|
|University of Cincinnati[b]||Cincinnati, Ohio||1819||Public||Bearcats||2005||2023||Big 12|
|University of Houston||Houston, Texas||1927||Public||Cougars||2013||2023||Big 12|
|University of Central Florida (UCF)||Orlando, Florida[c]||1963||Public||Knights||2013||2023||Big 12|
- UConn joined the original Big East at its formation in 1979, and remained in The American after the 2013 split.
- Cincinnati will play the 2024 women's lacrosse season in The American before the Big 12 begins sponsoring the sport in 2024–25.
- The UCF campus has an Orlando mailing address, but actually lies in unincorporated Orange County.
Former associate members change
Two other schools have been single-sport members, both in women's rowing.
former Big East sport
|San Diego State University||San Diego, California||1897||Public (California State University)||Aztecs||2015||2021||Women's rowing||N/A (dropped women's rowing)|
|Villanova University||Villanova, Pennsylvania||1842||Private (Catholic)||Wildcats||2013||2015||Women's rowing||CAA|
The American holds championships in 10 men's sports and 12 women's sports: