Big East will be called American Athletic Conference

NEW YORK — The current Big East will be called the American Athletic Conference starting next season.

The conference announced the decision Wednesday after university presidents approved the new moniker earlier in the day.

The Big East football schools were in need of a new name after they agreed to let seven basketball schools break away from the conference to start a new league this summer to be called the Big East. In return, the football schools received about $100 million of a $110 million pot the league had accumulated in recent years from exit and entry fees and NCAA basketball tournament revenue.

The American Athletic Conference will have 10 members in its first season: Rutgers, Louisville, Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU and Temple.

Rutgers and Louisville are likely leaving after 2013 and are set to be replaced by Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa in 2014. Navy is scheduled to join in 2015 for football only, and the conference will begin playing a league championship football game.

Nine of the schools set to compete in the American Athletic Conference were at one time part of Conference USA. By 2014, South Florida, UConn, Temple and Cincinnati will be the only schools in the AAC to have been in the Big East.

Commissioner Mike Aresco said the members worked with marketing experts, media partners and asked for feedback from fans to come up with a list of possible names.

“Versions that included the word ‘American’ led every list,” Aresco said in a statement. “American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our re-invented Conference.”

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.”

The Big East will now be a basketball-centric conference with old Big East members Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Marquette, DePaul and Providence, along with Xavier, Butler and Creighton.

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