American Athletic Conference

college sports conference in the USA

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 11 current full members (those that house most of their sports in the league), only the newest member, 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 responded by raiding 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.

MembersEdit

Departing members highlighted in pink.

School Location Founded Type
(affiliation)
Nickname Joined
The American[a]
CincinnatiUniversity of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 1819 Public Bearcats 2005
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 1907 Public Pirates 2014
HoustonUniversity of Houston Houston, Texas 1927 Public Cougars 2013
MemphisUniversity of Memphis Memphis, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers 2013
SMUSouthern Methodist University (SMU) University Park, Texas 1911 Private (Methodist) Mustangs 2013
South FloridaUniversity of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 Public Bulls 2005
Temple University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1884 State-related Owls 1991, 2012 (football)[b]
2013 (all sports)
Tulane University New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private (nonsectarian) Green Wave 2014
TulsaUniversity of Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma 1894 Private (Presbyterian) Golden Hurricane 2014
UCFUniversity of Central Florida (UCF) Orlando, Florida 1963 Public Knights 2013
Wichita State University[c] Wichita, Kansas 1895 Public Shockers 2017
  1. For Cincinnati and South Florida, plus the Temple football program, dates are when they joined the original Big East.
  2. Temple's football team was kicked out of the old Big East after the 2004 season, but came back in 2012.
  3. Non-football member.

Future membersEdit

School Location Founded Type
(affiliation)
Nickname Joining
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte) Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 Public 49ers 2023
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1965 Public Owls 2023
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 Public Mean Green 2023
Rice University Houston, Texas 1912 Private Owls 2023
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 1969 Public Blazers 2023
University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) San Antonio, Texas 1969 Public Roadrunners 2023

Associate membersEdit

As of the 2022–23 school year, The American has 12 "associate members" that play one or two sports in the conference. Five of these schools are set to become full conference members in July 2023.

School Location Founded Type
(affiliation)
Joined Sport Current main conference Nickname
University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte) Charlotte, North Carolina 1946 Public 2022 Men's soccer Conference USA
(The American in 2023)
49ers
Florida International University (FIU) University Park, Florida 1965 Public 2022 Men's soccer
Women's swimming & diving
Conference USA Panthers
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 1853 Public 2018 Women's lacrosse Southeastern Conference Gators
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, Florida 1965 Public 2022 Men's soccer
Women's swimming & diving
Conference USA
(The American in 2023)
Owls
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
University of North Texas Denton, Texas 1890 Public 2022 Women's swimming & diving Conference USA
(The American in 2023)
Mean Green
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 Public 2018 Women's rowing Sun Belt Conference Monarchs
2020 Women's lacrosse
Rice University Houston, Texas 1912 Private 2022 Women's swimming[a] Conference USA
(The American in 2023)
Owls
California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) Sacramento, California 1947 Public 2014 Women's rowing Big Sky Conference Hornets
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham, Alabama 1969 Public 2022 Men's soccer Conference USA
(The American in 2023)
Blazers
Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee 1873 Private 2018 Women's lacrosse Southeastern Conference Commodores
  1. Rice's women's aquatics program fields only swimmers, with no divers.

Former membersEdit

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.

School Location Founded Type
(affiliation)
Nickname Joined Left Current
conference
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)
2014 Big Ten
University of Connecticut (UConn) Storrs, Connecticut 1881 Public Huskies 1979[a] 2020 Big East
FBS independent (football)
  1. UConn joined the original Big East at its formation in 1979, and remained in The American after the 2013 split.

Former associate membersEdit

Two other schools have been single-sport members, both in women's rowing.

School Location Founded Type
(affiliation)
Nickname Joined Left Sport Current
conference in
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 Radnor Township, Pennsylvania 1842 Private (Catholic) Wildcats 2013 2015 Women's rowing CAA

SportsEdit

The American holds championships in 10 men's sports and 12 women's sports:

Other websitesEdit