New name for old Big East: The American Athletic Conference

Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZATulane President Scott Cowen, left, and Athletic Director Rick Dickson hold up a Big East Conference banner during a press conference Nov. 27 in New Orleans announcing the Green Wave's move to the current Big East Conference. The league will rename itself the American Athletic Conference at the end of the this season. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by RUSTY COSTANZATulane President Scott Cowen, left, and Athletic Director Rick Dickson hold up a Big East Conference banner during a press conference Nov. 27 in New Orleans announcing the Green Wave's move to the current Big East Conference. The league will rename itself the American Athletic Conference at the end of the this season.

NEW ORLEANS — Having
already shed most of its membership, the conference now known as the Big East is shedding its regional identification as well.

League officials announced Wednesday that the starting this fall, the league will be known as the American Athletic Conference.

Tulane will become a member in 2014.

In a release from the conference office in Providence, R.I., Commissioner Mike Aresco said that after working with sports marketing experts, media partners and fans through social media versions that including the word “American” led every list.

American 12 and American Metro had been among those reportedly under consideration as well as the final choice.

“Our name is nod to tradition, but at the same time makes clear our determination to be a conference with national impact and appeal,” Aresco said. “American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented conference.”

This AAC’s membership for this year — the last in which it will have an automatic qualifier for the BCS — will be holdovers Connecticut, Temple, Cincinnati, South Florida, Louisville and Rutgers, along with newcomers Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU.

Rutgers and Louisville depart in 2014 for the Big Ten and ACC, respectively.

Along with Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa will join the AAC in 2014.

Navy is scheduled to become a football-only member in 2015 which would give the league 12 teams and enable it to stage a conference championship game.

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.”

Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East after this year for the Atlantic Coast Conference, as is Notre Dame, which has been a Big East member in all sports but football.

The “Catholic Seven,” Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova and DePaul, broke away from the Big East earlier this year, although it acquired the Big East name.

The new Big East has added Xavier, Creighton and Butler since then.