The American Athletic Conference is investing in big cities and the state of Texas with its addition of six new members recently.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida Atlantic University, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Texas, Rice University and The University of Texas at San Antonio had their applications for membership approved last week.
The six universities will join the nine continuing members – East Carolina, Memphis, Navy (football only), South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (basketball and Olympic sports only) - to bring The American’s membership to 15 schools. The American will compete as a 14-team league in football and men’s and women’s basketball, among other sports.
The addition is a response to the departure of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, which will move to the Big 12. The timeline for the change in membership is to be determined.
The American will have a presence in four of the top 10, seven of the top 25 and 12 of the top 51 Nielsen media markets. The league will have four teams in the state of Texas, two each in Florida and North Carolina and one each in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma and Kansas.
A look at each of the six new members:
- UAB sponsors 18 sports, including 15 that will compete in the American Athletic Conference. The Blazers have won two Conference USA championships since the return of football in 2017 and partnered with the city of Birmingham and the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center to introduce the 42,000-seat Protective Stadium in 2021. UAB has made 15 NCAA tournament appearance in men’s basketball, advancing to the Elite Eight in 1982, and has 10 postseason appearances in women’s basketball, including an NCAA Sweet 16.
- Charlotte sponsors 18 varsity sports, all of which will compete in The American. The 49ers’ football program began in 2013, moved to the FBS level in 2015 and played in a bowl game for the first time in 2019. The men’s basketball program, which began NCAA Division I play in the 1970-71 season, became the youngest to reach the NCAA Final Four when the 49ers played in the 1977 national semifinals. Charlotte has made 11 NCAA tournament appearances in men’s basketball and has made 15 NCAA appearances in men’s soccer, including two College Cup appearances. The baseball team won the 2021 Conference USA regular-season title.
- FAU sponsors 19 sports, including 18 that will compete in The American. The Owls’ football program began in the 2001 season and debuted the near-30,000-seat FAU Stadium in 2011 and has won three conference titles, including two Conference USA championships in the last four years. The Owls have made five bowl appearances, going 4-1 in bowls. The baseball program has made 12 NCAA regional appearances and won conference titles in 2016 and 2019.
- North Texas has 16 varsity sports, all of which will compete in The American. The Mean Green football team played in the Conference USA championship game in 2017 and won four consecutive conference titles from 2001-04. North Texas won the 2021 conference title in men’s basketball and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship. North Texas has won four NCAA championships in men’s golf. It competed in the Missouri Valley Conference with Wichita State from 1957-75.
- Rice sponsors 16 varsity sports that will compete in the American Athletic Conference. The Owls won the 2003 NCAA Championship in baseball and have made seven College World Series appearances. Its women’s basketball team won or shared the past three Conference USA titles, and its volleyball team won the conference title in 2019 and shared it in 2020-21.
- UTSA sponsors 17 varsity sports, all of which will compete in The American. The Roadrunners play their home football games at the 64,000-seat Alamodome.