- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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The former Big East will assume the name American Athletic Conference on July 1, and it has the logo to go with it.
The league released the logo Thursday morning, and commissioner Mike Aresco addressed the new marks and a number of other issues moving forward on a conference call afterward.
"We think it captures our vision and identity," Aresco said. "And also, I would just point out, it is another step in the re-invention of the conference. We have come a long way since December and January, and we've made a remarkable amount of progress in a very short period of time. So it's a mark we're proud of and we're excited about the future."
Some tidbits from the conference call:
Aresco said the league is still figuring out how to distinguish its historical records among past, present and future members. He wants the conference to have a history -- citing Clyde Drexler's achievements at Houston, Jason Pierre-Paul's at USF, etc. -- but he also wants the league to have a fresh start.
There are no active expansion plans ongoing, though the league is always alert.
Merchandise with the league's new logo will be part of the longer-term plan. Aresco said he was more interested in getting the logo out there and recognized at the moment.
Aresco did not want to comment on the situation going on at departing member Rutgers.
Obtaining an NCAA waiver to hold a football conference title game is not a priority right now, meaning the league will likely not have one until Navy joins as a football-only member in 2015, giving the league 12 teams.
Speaking of Navy, Aresco was effusive in his praise of the institution and the cooperation he has received from athletic director Chet Gladchuk. Aresco said Navy will be treated like a full member. When asked if there is a chance Navy could actually become a full member -- like East Carolina did after initially joining in only football -- Aresco said it would be Gladchuk's decision, and that the East Carolina moves were made when the conference was "almost two leagues in a way."
Such divisiveness within the conference is no longer prevalent, Aresco said, citing the attitudes from last week's spring meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.: "I don't think the name Big East was mentioned once -- I thought I'd slip up and use it -- but we said American Athletic Conference the entire time. It was a real upbeat feeling in the room among our coaches. … We know we have a future. It's up to us to perform."
Aresco is hoping to complete the league's bowl lineup for the next cycle within the next few months, saying that he thinks the conference will have more tie-ins than the five it currently holds. (It has six, including a shared AutoZone Liberty Bowl tie-in with Conference-USA). He would not rule out as many as seven, eight or nine bowl tie-ins, and he said the league is pretty far along with a plan in starting its own bowl, something he thinks might spark a trend.
In hoops matters, Aresco said the conference likely won't decide on sites for the men's and women's tournaments for another week or two, again saying that each will start as one-year deals and then be re-evaluated. ... Aresco said that in the eyes of the NCAA, the conference merely changed its name, and that the hoops tourney bids stayed with the American.