The mass migration of basketball schools to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the unofficially titled “Catholic 7″ has taken the “East” out of the Big East.
To account for this realignment, the conference — which by 2014 will include members from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee and North Carolina — is adopting a new identity.
Big East commissioner Mike Aresco announced Wednesday that the league will officially become the American Athletic Conference at conclusion of the spring seasons. Input from fans, member schools, sports marketing experts and television executives at ESPN and CBS was all reportedly taken into consideration when deciding on a new conference identity.
‘Our name is a nod to tradition, but at the same time makes clear our determination to be a conference with national impact and appeal,” Aresco said in a statement. “The American Athletic Conference will represent core American values of optimism, energy, growth and innovation. We have a broad geographical footprint that represents unity as well as diversity.”
Of the 16 current Big East schools, only four will remain at the end of 2014. Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will depart for the ACC this summer while the “Catholic 7″ (DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova) will break off to form their own conference, retaining the Big East name. Louisville and Rutgers are also scheduled to leave for the ACC and Big 10, respectively, in 2014.
By the start of the 2014-15 school year, the new American Athletic Conference (which will be branded as “The American,” not the AAC, according to the Big East’s Twitter account) will include 11 full-sport members: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa, with Navy joining as a football-only member in 2015.
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