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American Athletic Conference facts for kids

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The American Athletic Conference (also known as "The American" or "AAC") is a big college sports conference in the United States. Its members play in NCAA Division I. In football, they play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS; known before 2006 as Division I-A), the higher of two levels of Division I football.

The American has its roots in the original Big East Conference. That conference was started in 1979 as a basketball-first league by a group of schools in the Eastern U.S. The Big East added football in 1991. That led to years of conflict between schools that played I-A/FBS football and those that did not. In July 2013, the Big East split into two conferences. The seven schools that did not play FBS football left to form a new Big East Conference. The FBS schools that did not go to other conferences stayed in the old conference structure. Along with several new members, they began operating as the American Athletic Conference.

The American kept the original Big East charter. That makes it the legal successor of the old Big East. However, both The American and the new Big East claim 1979 as their founding dates. Both also claim the pre-split history of the old Big East, at least in corporate terms. However, both leagues agreed that the current Big East would maintain the sporting history of the original conference in most sports. The only exceptions are football and women's rowing, the only two sports sponsored by The American but not the current Big East. In those two sports, neither offshoot league recognizes the history of the original Big East.

Of the 12 current full members (those that house most of their sports in the league), only the newest member, Wichita State, does not have a football team.


School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined
The American
CincinnatiUniversity of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio 1819 Public Bearcats 2005
ConnecticutUniversity of Connecticut Storrs, Connecticut 1881 Public Huskies 1979
East Carolina University Greenville, North Carolina 1907 Public Pirates 2014
HoustonUniversity of Houston Houston, Texas 1927 Public Cougars 2013
MemphisUniversity of Memphis Memphis, Tennessee 1912 Public Tigers 2013
SMUSouthern Methodist University (SMU) University Park, Texas 1911 Private (Methodist) Mustangs 2013
South FloridaUniversity of South Florida Tampa, Florida 1956 Public Bulls 2005
Temple University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1884 State-related Owls 1991, 2012 (football)
2013 (all sports)
Tulane University New Orleans, Louisiana 1834 Private (nonsectarian) Green Wave 2014
TulsaUniversity of Tulsa Tulsa, Oklahoma 1894 Private (Presbyterian) Golden Hurricane 2014
UCFUniversity of Central Florida (UCF) Orlando, Florida 1963 Public Knights 2013
Wichita State University Wichita, Kansas 1895 Public Shockers 2017

Associate members

As of the 2018–19 school year, The American has six "associate members" that play only one sport in the conference.

School Location Founded Type
Joined Sport Current main conference Nickname
University of Florida Gainesville, Florida 1853 Public 2018 Women's lacrosse Southeastern Conference Gators
United States Naval Academy (Navy) Annapolis, Maryland 1845 Federal 2015 Football Patriot League Midshipmen
Old Dominion University Norfolk, Virginia 1930 Public 2018 Women's rowing Conference USA Monarchs
California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) Sacramento, California 1947 Public 2014 Women's rowing Big Sky Conference Hornets
San Diego State University San Diego, California 1897 Public 2014 Women's rowing Mountain West Conference Aztecs
Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tennessee 1873 Private 2018 Women's lacrosse Southeastern Conference Commodores

Former members

Two schools left The American after spending only the 2013–14 school year in the renamed conference. Before 2013, both had been members of the original Big East.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined Left Current
University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky 1798 Public Cardinals 2005 2014 ACC
Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Jersey 1766 Public Scarlet Knights 1991 (football)
1995 (all sports)
2014 Big Ten

Former associate members

One other school was a member in a single sport starting from the Big East/American split in 2013 through 2015.

School Location Founded Type
Nickname Joined Left Sport Current
Villanova University Radnor Township, Pennsylvania 1842 Private (Catholic) Wildcats 2013 2015 Women's rowing Big East Conference
(CAA in rowing)


The American holds championships in 10 men's sports and 12 women's sports:

See also

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