Move over, Appalachian Athletic Conference; your acronym has some company.
With “America 12” roundly shot down, and with “the Big Metro American Conference” apparently too fast-foody for their tastes, the old Big East officially announced Wednesday evening that their new name moving forward will be the American Athletic Conference. The new name was necessitated due to the departures of the Catholic Seven, the former Big East members who took their basketball programs as well as the conference name to form a hoops-centric league.
The new name will go into effect for the 2013 season.
“We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names,” said commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “Versions that included the word ‘American’ led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented Conference.
“We engaged our fans through social media and focus groups in multiple cities, and we conducted extensive quantitative research. We also received terrific input from our partners at ESPN and CBS Sports. 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. 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.”
Beginning in 2014, the AAC will stretch from UConn (for now) in the Northeast to USF in the south to as far west as SMU and Houston. Thanks to the recent additions of schools such as East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane, the AAC will consist of 12 members (possibly) beginning in 2015 with the addition of Navy as a football-only member.
At that point, provided there are no other defections, the conference will conduct a football championship game.
“Our exciting new name is the result of a thorough process that has energized our Conference,” said Judy Genshaft, USF president and executive committee chair. “The American Athletic Conference brand will embody the values of competition and sportsmanship that our student-athletes have always exemplified.”
The conference made sure to note that it intends to emphasize “The American” as its brand as opposed to the acronym “AAC.”
In its release, the AAC noted that “[a] full set of [logos] for the American Athletic Conference will be presented in the coming weeks.” So we have that to look forward to, which is nice.