American Athletic Conference
The American Athletic Conference (The American or AAC) is an American collegiate athletic conference, featuring 11 member universities and five 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.
|American Athletic Conference|
|Established||July 1, 2013[note 1]|
|Members||11 (full) + 5 (associate)|
|Former names||Big East (1979–2013)[note 2]|
|Commissioner||Michael Aresco (since 2012)|
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.[note 3]
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 EastEdit
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.
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 reorganizationEdit
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 StateEdit
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 ConnecticutEdit
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.
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.
Alleged Big 12 raid and subsequent invitations to the conferenceEdit
In late July 2021, founding Big 12 members Oklahoma and Texas jointly announced that they planned to leave the conference no later than 2025, and formally requested an invitation from the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Shortly thereafter, The American became a peripheral player in this saga when the Big 12 sent a cease and desist letter to current broadcast partner ESPN, charging the network with conspiring to damage the league by luring Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, and also alleging that the network encouraged an unnamed conference to raid the Big 12 to pave the way for an earlier departure by Oklahoma and Texas. A later media report identified that other conference as The American. ESPN issued an official denial of the Big 12 charges, and officials from The American declined to comment.
On September 3, Sports Illustrated reported that the Big 12 was on the verge of inviting four schools— including American Conference members Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF. Later that month, all three schools received and accepted membership offers on the date of the presidents' meeting, with the official announcement stating only that they would join the Big 12 no later than 2024–25.
In late September 2021, several national media outlets reported that Mountain West Conference (MW) members Air Force and Colorado State had approached The American regarding a possible move to that league. However, on October 1, the MW announced that its current membership would remain intact for the foreseeable future, removing its 12 football members (including football-only member Hawaiʻi) from the list of potential new members for The American. For its part, The American officially denied extending invitations to the two Colorado schools.
Later that month on October 18, Yahoo Sports reported that The American was preparing to receive applications from six of the 14 members of Conference USA—Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA. Should all six schools join, The American would become a 14-team conference in all sports. The next day, ESPN reported that all six schools had submitted applications, and that each would receive a formal letter by the end of that week (October 22) detailing the terms of conference expansion. All six schools were accepted on October 21.
Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Assoc. member (Other sports) Other Conference
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.
Departing members are highlighted in red.
|University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida||1853||2018||Public||51,474||Gators||Women's lacrosse||SEC|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, Tennessee||1873||2018||Private||12,686||Commodores|
|United States Naval Academy||Annapolis, Maryland||1845||2015||Military
|Old Dominion University||Norfolk, Virginia||1930||2018 (rowing)
|Public||24,375||Monarchs||Women's rowing &
|California State University, Sacramento||Sacramento, California||1947||2015||Public||28,811||Hornets||Women's rowing||Big Sky|
|University of Alabama at Birmingham||Birmingham, Alabama||1969||TBD||Public||21,923||$537.3||Blazers||C-USA|
|Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, Florida||1961||TBD||29,772||$227||Owls|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||Charlotte, North Carolina||1946||TBD||30,146||$230.35||49ers|
|University of North Texas||Denton, Texas||1890||TBD||42,375||$210.6||Mean Green|
|Rice University||Houston, Texas||1912||TBD||Private||7,124||$6,480||Owls|
|University of Texas at San Antonio||San Antonio, Texas||1969||TBD||Public||30,674||$172||Roadrunners|
Former full membersEdit
Three full members have departed from the conference.
|Rutgers University||New Brunswick, New Jersey||1766||2013||2014||Public||Scarlet Knights||Big Ten|
|University of Louisville||Louisville, Kentucky||1798||2013||Cardinals||ACC|
|University of Connecticut||Storrs, Connecticut||1881||1979||2020||Huskies||Big East|
|NCAA DI-A Independent (Football)|
Former associate membersEdit
Two associate members have left the conference.
former AAC sport
|Villanova University||Villanova, Pennsylvania||1842||2013||2015||Wildcats||Women's rowing||Big East||CAA|
|San Diego State University||San Diego, California||1897||2015||2021||Aztecs||Women's rowing||Mountain West||No longer sponsor women's rowing|
The American currently sponsors championship competition in 10 men's and 12 women's NCAA sanctioned sports. Old Dominion and Sacramento State are associate members for women's rowing. 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.[note 5]
|Swimming & Diving||
|Track and Field (Indoor)||
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||
Men's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
Departing members are highlighted in red.
|Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
Men's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools:
- Rifle is technically a men's sport, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other. Memphis fields a coed team, making it the only current or future American Conference member whose rifle team is open to men.
- The only category of rowing that the NCAA governs is women's heavyweight rowing. All men's rowing is governed by the Intercollegiate Rowing Association.
Women's sponsored sports by schoolEdit
Departing members are highlighted in red.
|Tennis||Track & Field
|Track & Field
Women's varsity sports not sponsored by The American which are played by conference schools:
Future members in gray.
- Rice fields a women's team in swimming but not in diving.
- Part of the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program.
- Rifle is technically a men's sport, but men's, women's, and coed teams all compete against each other. Current member Memphis fields a coed team, and future member UAB fields a women-only team.
- Florida Atlantic's future beach volleyball affiliation has not yet been determined.
Note: Shared titles (ex: 2014 football, 2020 men's basketball) are counted as a full title for each co-champion.
Accurate as of the 2021 American Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament.
|School||Number of conference championships||Championships by sport|
|Houston||33||Baseball: 4 (2 regular season, 2 tournament)
Men's basketball: 3 (2 regular season, 1 tournament)
|UCF||32||Baseball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)|
Women's golf: 3
Women's rowing: 5
Men's soccer: 4 (3 regular season, 1 tournament)
Women's soccer: 3 (2 regular season, 1 tournament)
Softball: 3 (2 regular season, 1 tournament)
Men's tennis: 1
Women's tennis: 2
Women's track & field: 1 (1 indoor, 0 outdoor)
Volleyball: 5 (2 regular season, 3 tournament)
|South Florida||26||Baseball: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament)|
Women's basketball: 2 (1 regular season, 1 tournament)
Men's golf: 5
Men's soccer: 2 (1 regular season, 1 tournament)
Women's soccer: 6 (3 regular season, 3 tournament)
Softball: 3 (3 regular season, 0 tournament)
Men's tennis: 5
Women's tennis: 2
|Connecticut†||25||Baseball: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament)|
Men's basketball: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament)
Women's basketball: 14 (7 regular season, 7 tournament)
Women's cross country: 1
Men's soccer: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)
Women's soccer: 3 (1 regular season, 2 tournament)
Men's track & field: 2 (1 indoor, 1 outdoor)
Women's track & field: 2 (2 indoor, 0 outdoor)
|SMU||22||Men's basketball: 4 (2 regular season, 2 tournament)|
Women's cross country: 2
Men's golf: 1
Women's rowing: 1
Men's soccer: 5 (2 regular season, 3 tournament)
Women's soccer: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)
Men's swimming & diving: 1
Women's swimming & diving: 2
Women's track & field: 3 (1 indoor, 2 outdoor)
Volleyball: 2 (2 regular season, 0 tournament)
|Tulsa||22||Men's basketball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)|
Men's cross country: 7
Women's cross country: 4
Men's soccer: 3 (0 regular season, 3 tournament)
Softball: 4 (1 regular season, 3 tournament)
Women's tennis: 3
|Cincinnati||15||Baseball: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament)|
Men's basketball: 5 (3 regular season, 2 tournament)
Women's soccer: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament)
Men's swimming & diving: 2
Women's track & field: 3 (1 indoor, 2 outdoor)
Volleyball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)
|Louisville†||9*||Baseball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)
Men's basketball: 1 (0 regular season, 1 tournament), vacated
|East Carolina||7||Baseball: 3 (1 regular season, 2 tournament)|
Men's swimming & diving: 4
|Wichita State||6||Men's basketball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)|
Women's cross country: 1
Softball: 2 (1 regular season, 1 tournament)
Women's track & field: 1 (0 indoor, 1 outdoor)
Volleyball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)
Men's golf: 1
Women's soccer: 2 (1 regular season, 1 tournament)
|Florida‡||4||Women's lacrosse: 4 (2 regular season, 2 tournament)|
|Temple||2||Men's basketball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)|
|Tulane||2||Baseball: 1 (1 regular season, 0 tournament)|
Men's tennis: 1
*- Does not include vacated championship(s)
†- No longer a member of the AAC
‡- Associate member
NCAA national championshipsEdit
Excluded from these lists 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, retroactive Helms Athletic Foundation titles, and ITA tennis titles.
|School||Total||Men||Women||Co-ed||Nickname||Most successful sport (Titles)|
|University of Houston||17||17||0||0||Cougars||Men's golf (16)|
|Southern Methodist University||4||4||0||0||Mustangs||Men's outdoor track & field (2)|
|Temple University||3||1||2||0||Owls||Women's lacrosse (2)|
|University of Cincinnati||2||2||0||0||Bearcats||Men's basketball (2)|
|University of South Florida||1||0||1||0||Bulls||Women's swimming (1)|
|Tulane University||1||1||0||0||Green Wave||Men's tennis (1)|
|University of Tulsa||1||0||1||0||Golden Hurricane||Women's golf (1)|
|Wichita State University||1||1||0||0||Shockers||Baseball (1)|
|University of Central Florida||0||0||0||0||Knights||N/A|
|University of Memphis||0||0||0||0||Tigers||N/A|
|East Carolina University||0||0||0||0||Pirates||N/A|
Individual and relay championshipsEdit
|School||Total||Men||Women||Co-ed||Nickname||Most successful sport (Titles)|
|Southern Methodist University||122||77||45||0||Mustangs||Women's swimming (29)|
|University of Houston||65||48||17||0||Cougars||Men's outdoor track & field (21)|
|University of South Florida||21||9||10||2[a]||Bulls||Women's swimming (10)|
|Temple University||17||17||0||0||Owls||Men's gymnastics (13)|
|Tulane University||14||14||0||0||Green Wave||Men's tennis (10)|
|University of Cincinnati||6||4||2||0||Bearcats||Men's swimming (3)|
|University of Memphis||6||5||0||1[b]||Tigers||Men's outdoor track & field (3)|
|East Carolina University||4||4||0||0||Pirates||Men's swimming (4)|
|Wichita State University||3||3||0||0||Shockers||Men's outdoor track & field (2)|
|University of Tulsa||2||1||1||0||Golden Hurricane||Women's golf (1), Men's indoor track & field (1)|
|University of Central Florida||1||0||1||0||Knights||Women's indoor track & field (1)|
- Both won by Michelle Scarborough in rifle. While Scarborough is a woman, rifle is considered a co-ed sport by the NCAA.
- Won by Beth Tidmore in rifle. While Tidmore is a woman, rifle is considered a co-ed sport by the NCAA.
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.[note 7] 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 recordsEdit
|The American |
|W||L||T||Win %||W||L||Win %|
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.
|Year||Champions||Conference||Overall||AP||Coaches||Bowl result||Head coach|
|2013||UCF||8–0||12–1||#10||#12||W Fiesta Bowl 52–42 vs. Baylor†||George O'Leary|
|2014||UCF||7–1||9–4||N/A||N/A||L St. Petersburg Bowl 27–34 vs. NC State||George O'Leary|
|Cincinnati||7–1||9–4||N/A||N/A||L Military Bowl 17–33 vs. Virginia Tech||Tommy Tuberville|
|Memphis||7–1||10–3||#25||#25||W Miami Beach Bowl 55–48 vs. BYU||Justin Fuente|
|2015||Houston||7–1||13–1||#8||#8||W Peach Bowl 38–24 vs. Florida State†||Tom Herman|
|2016||Temple||7–1||10–3||#23||#24||L Military Bowl 26–34 vs. Wake Forest||Matt Rhule|
|2017||UCF||8–0||13–0||#6||#7||W Peach Bowl 34–27 vs. Auburn†||Scott Frost|
|2018||UCF||8–0||12–1||#11||#12||L Fiesta Bowl 32–40 vs. LSU†||Josh Heupel|
|2019||Memphis||7–1||12–2||#17||#17||L Cotton Bowl 39–53 vs. Penn State†||Mike Norvell|
|2020||Cincinnati||6–0||9–1||#6||#6||L Peach Bowl 21–24 vs. Georgia†||Luke Fickell|
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.
|Teams||Rivalry Name||Trophy||Meetings||Began||Record||Series leader||Current Streak|
|Cincinnati–Memphis||—||—||37||1966||23–14–0||Memphis||Cincinnati won 1|
|Houston–Tulsa||—||—||45||1950||26–19–0||Houston||Houston won 3|
|Navy–SMU||—||Gansz Trophy||22||1930||13–9–0||Navy||SMU won 1|
|South Florida–UCF||War on I-4||War on I-4 Trophy||12||2005||6–6–0||Tied||UCF won 4|
Records as of the end of the 2020 season.
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.
|2020–25||Cotton, Peach, Fiesta, or Playoff[note 8]||Dallas, Atlanta, Glendale, or Playoff Site||CFP At-Large|
|2020-25||Fenway Bowl||Boston, Massachusetts||ACC|
|2020–25||Military Bowl||Annapolis, Maryland||ACC|
|2020/22/24||Hawaiʻi Bowl||Honolulu, Hawaii||MWC or BYU|
|2021/23/25||Armed Forces Bowl||Fort Worth, Texas||Big 12 or Army|
|2020–25||Cure Bowl||Orlando, Florida||Sun Belt|
|2020–25||Boca Raton Bowl||Boca Raton, Florida||MAC or C-USA|
|2020–25||Frisco Bowl||Frisco, Texas||C-USA, MAC, Sun Belt or BYU|
|2020–25||Birmingham Bowl||Birmingham, Alabama||SEC|
|2020–25||Gasparilla Bowl||Tampa, Florida||SEC|
|2020–25||First Responder Bowl||Dallas, Texas||TBD|
|2020–25||Myrtle Beach Bowl||Conway, South Carolina||C-USA, MAC or Sun Belt|
|2020–25||New Mexico Bowl||Albuquerque, New Mexico||TBD|
Head football coach compensationEdit
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.
|1||University of Houston||Dana Holgorsen||$3,610,000|
|2||University of Cincinnati||Luke Fickell||$3,272,500|
|3||United States Naval Academy||Ken Niumatalolo||$2,316,000|
|4||University of South Florida||Jeff Scott||$2,232,500|
|5||Temple University||Rod Carey||$2,050,916|
|6||Tulane University||Willie Fritz||$1,787,000|
|7||University of Memphis||Ryan Silverfield||$1,750,000|
|8||University of Tulsa||Philip Montgomery||$1,698,865|
|9||East Carolina University||Mike Houston||$1,478,462|
|10||Southern Methodist University||Sonny Dykes||$1,340,314|
|11||University of Central Florida||Gus Malzahn†||TBA|
- † New hire
Records as of the end of the 2020 season.
Conference individual honorsEdit
Coaches and media of The American award individual honors at the end of each football season.
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 percentageEdit
This list goes through the 2020–21 season.
|No.||Team||Records||Win Pct.||The American
|Final Fours||National |
American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball NCAA BidsEdit
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.
|Total bids||Bids as
|School||Last bid||Last win||Last Sweet 16||Last Elite 8||Last Final 4||Last final||Last Championship (Titles)|
|Total: 169||Total: 18[d]||Total: 3 National Championship Titles[e]|
- Starting with the 2013–14 season, which The American considers as the start of its competitive history (as opposed to its institutional history), with the following exceptions:
- East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa, whose first conference season was 2014–15.
- Wichita State, whose first conference season was 2017–18.
- Temple were the first NIT champions in 1938, one year before the inception of the NCAA Tournament. The Owls were retroactively recognized by the Premo-Porretta Power Poll and the Helms Athletic Foundation as the national champion for the 1937–38 season.
- Memphis has vacated all of its victories from the 2007–08 season. These 38 wins are not included in Memphis's all-time record.
- Does not include 2 tournament appearances by UConn while in The American.
- Does not include UConn's 2014 national title as an American Conference member.
Men's basketball championsEdit
|2013–14[a]||Louisville[b]||31–6 (15–3)||#5||#9||NCAA Sweet Sixteen||Louisville||31–6||#5||#9||NCAA Sweet Sixteen|
|Cincinnati||27–7 (15–3)||#15||#22||NCAA Second Round|
|2014–15||SMU||27–7 (15–3)||#18||RV||NCAA First Round||SMU||27–7||#18||RV||NCAA First Round|
|2015–16||Temple||21–12 (14–4)||NR||NR||NCAA First Round||UConn||25–10||RV||RV||NCAA Second Round|
|2016–17||SMU||30–4 (17–1)||#12||#15||NCAA First Round||SMU||30–4||#12||#15||NCAA First Round|
|2017–18||Cincinnati||30–4 (16–2)||#6||#6||NCAA Second Round||Cincinnati||30–4||#6||#8||NCAA Second Round|
|2018–19||Houston||33–4(16–2)||#9||#11||NCAA Sweet Sixteen||Cincinnati||28–7||#22||#24||NCAA First Round|
|2020–21||Wichita State||16–6 (11–2)||NR||NR||NCAA First Four||Houston||28–4||#6||#3||NCAA Final Four|
- UConn, after being eliminated from the conference tournament, went on to become the national champions after beating Kentucky 60–54 in the title game.
- After Louisville basketball staffer Andre McGee was found to have paid a local madam to provide strippers and prostitutes to players and recruits from 2010 through 2014, the NCAA ordered all Louisville records from the 2010–11 through 2013–14 seasons to be vacated.
- 2020 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- 2020 American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
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.
|Teams||Rivalry Name||Meetings||Began||Record||Series leader||Current Streak|
|Cincinnati–Memphis||—||82||1968||47–34||Cincinnati||Memphis won 1|
|South Florida–UCF||War on I–4||39||1972||24–17||South Florida||UCF won 1|
|Houston–SMU||—||88||1956||55–33||Houston||Houston won 2|
|Tulsa–Wichita State||—||132||1931||72–62||Wichita||Wichita won 3|
Results as of the 2020–21 season.
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 percentageEdit
This list goes through the 2016–17 season.
|No.||Team||Records||Win Pct.||The American
|Final Fours||National |
- Record since the 1972–73 season, considered by Memphis to be the start of its "modern era" of women's basketball.
- Record since the 1976–77 season, considered by Wichita State to be the start of its "modern era" of Division I women's basketball.
Women's basketball championsEdit
|2013–14||UConn||40–0 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||UConn||40–0 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2014–15||UConn||38–1 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||UConn||38–1 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2015–16||UConn||38–0 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion||UConn||38–0 (18–0)||#1||#1||NCAA Champion|
|2016–17||UConn||36–1 (16–0)||#1||#1||Final Four||UConn||36–1 (16–0)||#1||#1||Final Four|
|2017–18||UConn||36–1 (16–0)||#1||#1||Final Four||UConn||36–1 (16–0)||#1||#1||Final Four|
|2018–19||UConn||35–3 (16–0)||#2||#2||Final Four||UConn||35–3 (16–0)||#2||#3||Final Four|
|2019–20||UConn||28–3 (16–0)||#5||#6||Canceled[a]||UConn||28–3 (16–0)||#5||#6||Canceled|
|2020–21||South Florida||19–4 (13–2)||#19||#18||Round of 32||South Florida||19–4 (13–2)||#19||#18||Round of 32|
- 2020 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament was cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic
Departing members in pink. Future members in gray.
- Temple splits its women's basketball schedule between McGonigle Hall and the Liacouras Center.
- Wichita State discontinued its football program following the 1986 season. The Shockers' football facility, Cessna Stadium (capacity 30,000) still stands. It is the home of the Shockers' track and field program and hosts football games for Wichita's Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School.
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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to American Athletic Conference.|
- The American is the legal all-sports successor to the Big East Conference (1979–2013). The Big East was rebranded and reorganized as the American Athletic Conference on July 1, 2013.
- The American is the legal successor to the Big East Conference (1979–2013) and retains its charter. The current Big East Conference purchased the "Big East" name during the 2013 conference breakup.
- 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.
- Non-football member.
- 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 18.104.22.168 imposes the latter requirement on FBS schools. FCS schools, under Bylaw 22.214.171.124, 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 "2012–13 NCAA Division I Manual" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved March 7, 2013.
- Navy continues to field most of its other sports in the NCAA Division I Patriot League.
- 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.
- If The American's champion is the highest ranked from among the "Group of Five" conferences, it will receive a bid to either the Cotton Bowl, the Peach Bowl, or the Fiesta Bowl. If the team is ranked in the top four at the end of the regular season, it will take part in the College Football Playoff.
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