Old Big East now American Athletic
The American Athletic Conference is the new name for the former Big East Conference.
Versions that included the word 'American' led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our re-invented Conference.” -- Commissioner Mike Aresco
The conference announced the decision Wednesday after university presidents approved the new moniker earlier in the day.
"Versions that included the word 'American' led every list," commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our re-invented Conference."
In the Big East's final season in its current makeup, the league is going out with a flourish. Louisville upset Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and five teams reached the men's and women's Final Fours, the most from one conference in NCAA history.
Last month, sources told ESPN that Aresco favored America 12 Conference as the league's new name. However, the schools' presidents rejected it because they didn't want a number included. The renamed league will have 10 teams in 2013; 11 in 2014; and 12 in 2015.
The old Big East needed a new conference name because the Catholic 7 schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- kept the Big East name when they announced they were splitting and forming their new league.
With Syracuse and Louisville alive, the Big East is participating in the Final Four for the 19th time in 34 years and looking for its seventh champion. Its 29 Sweet 16 participants is tops over the past 10 seasons.
NCAA Champs By Conference Since 1979
The new 10-team Big East begins July 1 with the Catholic 7 schools, plus Butler, Creighton and Xavier.
Besides the Catholic 7 schools leaving, the league also loses Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC on July 1. In 2014, Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) also depart.
To compensate for those defections, the American Athletic Conference will add full members UCF, Houston, Memphis and SMU on July 1; East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa on July 1, 2014; and football-only member Navy on July 1, 2015.
In 2013, the members are: Louisville, Rutgers, Central Florida, Temple, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida. In 2015, what will then be a 12-team league will split into two six-team divisions, the makeup of which is still to be determined. It also will hold a conference football championship game, which will be televised on either ABC or ESPN.
The American Athletic Conference will be the third Division I conference with a variation of America or American in its name. The others: America East and Mid-American. There's also Conference USA, which, ironically, is the league where nine of the 12 teams in the American Athletic Conference came from.
The rebuilt conference has new television deals in place with ESPN and CBS.
"The American Athletic Conference is a brand that suggests a national scope and quality membership," said Burke Magnus, Senior Vice President, College Sports Programming, ESPN. "It is an exciting time for the new conference and ESPN looks forward to our future together."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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