Mike Aresco

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Mike Aresco expects to hear update on AAC championship game waiver “in the next month”


With the upcoming departure of UConn from the American Athletic Conference, the staus of the AAC Championship Game is officially in question. Without 12 football-playing members, the AAC does not satisfy the NCAA requirement to play an official conference championship game without a waiver. Not wanting to give up the title game just a few short years after implementing it (and accepting the extra revenue generated in the TV contract), AAC commissioner Mike Aresco is hoping to get some positive word on a waiver request sometime soon.

How soon?

It looks like we may have an update on this situation within the month. The sooner, the better.

UConn is leaving the AAC after this current football season, and Aresco has made it clear the conference still wants to continue playing its conference title game. The current plan is for the AAC to scrap the two-division format entirely and pit the two best teams in a conference championship game at the end of the regular season (an idea that would work well in almost every conference, by the way). The AAC reportedly field a formal waiver to allow for the championship game to live on back in August.

The Big 12 currently only has 10 members and has been granted permission to field a conference championship game on top of the round-robin schedule played during the season. If the Big 12 can have a conference title game without 12 members, then the AAC should be getting confirmation their conference championship game will continue too. But waiting for the official word is needed before the conference can start making plans for 2020 and beyond.

At this point, there remains no sign the conference is looking to add a 12th member for football, which would negate the need for a waiver. But if the waiver is denied, for some reason, then expect the AAC expansion rumors to start flying once again.

UConn will pay $17 million to leave AAC after 2019 season, be FBS independent

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As expected, UConn will no longer be a member of the American Athletic Conference effective after the 2019-2020 sports seasons. The Big East-bound university and AAC agreed on the terms of a buyout that will allow the Huskies to leave the conference in all sports after the upcoming season.

UConn will pay the AAC a total of $17 million by 2026, although it is reported the school will pay a large chunk of the buyout fee over the next two years. The agreement comes after the remaining American Athletic Conference members voted to terminate UConn’s membership with the AAC beginning July 1, 2020 (the typical date for conference realignment changes to take effect).

“I want to thank David Benedict for his leadership and cooperation in reaching a swift and amicable resolution regarding UConn’s departure, and also UConn president Susan Herbst for her support of the conference,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement on Friday. “We appreciate UConn’s accomplishments in The American, we wish them the best, and we thank them for their contributions over the past six years.”

UConn is reuniting with their old Big East family in all sports but football. The Huskies will move forward as an FBS independent program with no conference currently extending an invitation to join and no conferences showing any public interest in doing so at the time. The Huskies are also working feverishly to fill the 2020 schedule and other future schedules now that they will be independent with plenty of vacancies to fill on the schedule.

It was previously reported the AAC will not look to expand its membership and will remain with 11 football members beginning in 2020.

AAC statement on UConn’s departure: We wish them well

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UConn is officially leaving the AAC for the Big East in basketball and other sports, and the football program is being left stranded in the great unknown. Earlier today, the Big East formally welcomed back one of their former storied programs in a press conference. Once that news was officially announced, the American Athletic Conference issued its own statement regarding the decision by UConn. In a brief statement, the AAC wished UConn well moving forward and directed its focus to the exit process for the Huskies and the conference.

“The University of Connecticut has announced its withdrawal from the American Athletic Conference,” a statement from AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “We wish UConn well.”

“We will next address the exit procedure mandated by our conference bylaws,” Aresco’s statement continued. “Our conference will continue to move forward in pursuit of its national goals in football, men’s and women’s basketball, and Olympic sports.”

It was previously reported the AAC will stick to 11 members in football following the departure of UConn after the upcoming 2019 season, which will be the last for UConn as a conference member. Other rumors have suggested schools like Army and BYU could be top candidates to join the AAC in some capacity, although the official public word from the AAC has done nothing to suggest that may be the case. For now, the focus is more on managing the exit process and getting UConn to pay its full buyout fee to the conference.

UConn appears to be heading toward life as an FBS independent as invites from the MAC and Conference USA do not appear to be in the mail.

AAC revenue dips below $75 million

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The American Athletic Conference may view itself as a power conference program, but the revenue situation for the conference continues to paint a much different picture. Documents for the past fiscal year obtained by The Orlando Sentinel show the AAC recorded a revenue of $74.47 million for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, a drop of six percent from the previous year.

In the previous year, the AAC reported a revenue of $79.297 million. It’s important to make note that this fiscal year figure does not include any revenue obtained by placing UCF in a New Years Six bowl game this past football season. That will be reflected in the 2017-2018 fiscal year figures. The AAC did not have a team in the New Years Six lineup during the 2016-2017 fiscal year (Western Michigan of the MAC crashed the NY6 party). UCF played in the Peach Bowl this past season, which should boost the figures for the next fiscal year revenue figures.

Of course, the revenue the AAC recorded for the past fiscal year continues to be overpowered by the massive revenues being recorded by the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and the SEC. However, the AAC’s revenue still carries the torch for the non-power conferences. This downward trend does stress more on the importance of the conference being proactive in securing a forward-thinking media rights deal for when the current TV deal expires in 2020. This is where AAC commissioner Mike Aresco will fight hard to make sure his conference has a deal he deems fair to the entire conference, which he does not feel is the case right now.

Via The Orlando Sentinel;

“The real game-changer for us would be TV because we’re just not getting anywhere near what we deserve in TV,” American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said. “It’s a throwback to that five-year ago period when we were very unstable and the whole situation was unstable and that’s just not remotely true now.

“I think at the time, I don’t think anyone realized how powerful our schools could become. We’ve established ourselves as a nationally relevant and respected conference and now it’s a question of let’s make sure that results in a TV deal that we need to keep this going. It’s a mixture of exposure and revenue.”

The AAC did have a rough start in terms of conference stability was concerned, but the conference has come together to form a formidable conference as programs like Houston, Memphis, UCF, USF, and Navy have played well. The conference will also be boosted with the addition of Wichita State in basketball.

AAC tabs Bryan Platt as new supervisor of football officials

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The American Athletic Conference has named Bryan Platt, a veteran football official, to be the conference’s new point of contact between the conference and the league’s football coaches. Perhaps not by coincidence, Platt has some strong ACC ties.

Platt has been an on-field official since 1994 and has worked in 14 postseason games during his career. He was most recently a back judge for the ACC and has officiated in the 2017 College Football Playoff semifinal in the Rose Bowl between Oklahoma and Georgia.Prior to officiating in the ACC, Platt worked in the Big East, so this is a bit of a homecoming for Platt.

The AAC hiring an official with long-standing ties to the ACC may not be all that surprising given the recent partnership announced by the AAC and ACC to help provide more stable officiating oversight in the two conferences. Platt will work underneath Dennis Hennigan, who is in charge of the oversight effort between the two conferences and serving as the Supervisor of Football Officials for the ACC.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Bryan back to the American Athletic Conference,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement. “He has distinguished himself through a long and successful career at the highest levels of college football and has annually officiated many of the biggest games across the nation. We are confident that Bryan’s expertise and integrity will make him an effective supervisor of our football officials and a valuable resource for our member schools.”