UTSA announces its appearance at the American Athletic Conference


UTSA is officially moving to the American Athletic Conference, the school said Thursday.

The AAC Board of Directors and Commissioner Mike Aresco have endorsed UTSA as one of six programs making the leap from Conference USA, along with Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice and UAB.

These schools will join the permanent members of AAC SMU, Tulsa, East Carolina, Temple, Memphis, Navy, South Florida and Tulane to form a 14-team football league. Wichita State is also a member of the AAC in basketball and Olympic sports only.

Incoming programs will begin their membership “on a date to be determined,” according to the league’s announcement.

“UTSA is on an incredible upward trajectory with a very bright future. Today is a milestone on that journey for our track and field program, ”UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said in a statement. “Joining The American is a bold opportunity for UTSA and builds on the powerful dynamics of the university. We are incredibly excited for the future.

The AAC has long been considered the best league in the Group of Five, with Aresco frequently touting the American as a “Power Six” conference.

The league backed the moniker, reaching a New Years Bowl six times in seven years in college football playoff format and boasting four teams with top-10 standings. But most of these accolades have been won by programs now intended for the Big 12: Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida.

“We are delighted to join the American Athletic Conference and thank Commissioner Aresco and the conference board for their vision and partnership,” UTSA Athletic Director Lisa Campos said in a statement. “This decision will further elevate UTSA as a national brand and advance our goal of Transforming Lives as the nationally recognized Division I program of the NCAA San Antonio. Now is the perfect time to be a Roadrunner.

The AAC media rights deal would pay members around $ 6 million per year, eclipsing the less than $ 500,000 UTSA earned in media rights in FY2020. The impact of the realignment on payments AAC’s media rights to new members remains unclear.

Thursday’s additions give AAC a presence in four of Nielsen’s top 10 media markets and seven of the top 25, according to the UTSA announcement. The league, headquartered in Irving, has four Texas-based programs with SMU, North Texas, Rice and UTSA.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six exceptional universities to the American Athletic Conference,” Aresco said in a statement. “This is a strategic expansion that achieves a number of goals as the conference enters its second decade. We add excellent institutions established in big cities that have invested in competition at the highest level. We have increased the geographic focus, which will particularly help the men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams at the conference.

Realignment dominoes began to fall in July, when Texas and Oklahoma announced they had been officially accepted into the Southeastern Conference, leaving the Big 12.

In September, the Big 12 reloaded by adding BYU as well as current AAC members Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

As the AAC searched for replacement members, UTSA football was reaching a crescendo, jumping to a 7-0 start and the first nationwide ranking in program history to No.24 in this week’s Associated Press poll.

UTSA joined Conference USA on July 1, 2013 for the program’s third football season. The Roadrunners spent the previous year at the Western Athletic Conference and competed as independents in 2011. Prior to moving to WAC, UTSA was a member of the Southland Conference for 21 years.

The AAC, which was reconstituted in 2013, is also projecting itself as a formidable men’s basketball league, with Memphis and Wichita State reaching the Final Four in the past 15 years.


Twitter: @GregLuca

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