Less than a week after reports first surfaced that six members of Conference USA would seek membership into the American Athletic Conference, each of the six universities had their applications approved by the AAC’s nine continuing members.
The six schools won’t join the AAC until a later date to be determined, but leaving C-USA for the AAC are: Florida Atlantic, University at Alabama Birmingham (UAB), Charlotte, North Texas, Rice and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
The addition of the six C-USA schools will make the AAC a 14-team league in football and basketball.
“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade. We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams.
“And we will continue to provide valuable inventory to our major media rights partner, ESPN, which will feature our members on the most prominent platforms in sports media. Additionally, we increase the value in live content options for CBS Sports, which features selected men’s basketball games from the conference.”
The AAC’s nine continuing members are: East Carolina, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, Navy (football only) and Wichita State (basketball and Olympic sports only).
Current AAC members Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston were accepted into the Big 12 Conference last month in a domino effect from Oklahoma and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
UCF, Cincinnati and Houston will begin as Big 12 members no later than July 2024.
Eight members of C-USA are left behind, including Marshall. The others are: Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UTEP and Western Kentucky.
C-USA will need to expand to stay afloat and could look to the Sun Belt Conference for options.
The Sun Belt, which has expressed interest in expanding beyond its current 10 football members, could look to add C-USA holdovers in its own expansion effort.
Currently competing in the Sun Belt in football are: Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Troy, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Louisiana, Texas State, South Alabama, UL Monroe and Arkansas State.
UT Arlington and Little Rock are members of the Sun Belt in basketball.