For the first 135 years of its existence, Navy played as a football independent. With Independence Day just three days away, the Midshipmen have officially shed that football independence for its first-ever conference home.
What has been known was going to transpire for a more than a year has now come to fruition as the American Athletic Conference officially introduced Navy as the league’s 12th member. Along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa, Navy will be a part of the AAC West. The AAC East will consist of Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Temple, UCF and USF.
The conference will conduct its first-ever championship game in its third season of existence, which will take place a week before the annual Army-Navy game.
“”I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world.
“As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference.”
After a non-conference date with Colgate in the season opener, and following a bye week, Navy will open up league play by hosting East Carolina Sept. 19 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Their first AAC road trip will take place the following week as the service academy travels to UConn.
The Oct. 31 game against USF will mark the first-ever meeting between the two FBS programs, as will the following week’s game against Memphis.
At the opposite end of the historical spectrum is Tulane, 19 total games played, and SMU, which has squared off with Navy a total of 16 times.
“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.