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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.”

ACC, American team up to improve officiating oversight

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The ACC and American Athletic Conference are coming together with the intent on improving officiating oversight between the two conferences. According to an announcement from the AAC, ACC supervisor of officials Dennis Hennigan will serve as the lead administrator and take on the responsibility of hiring and training officials used in both conferences.

“We are excited to partner with the ACC regarding the administration of our football officiating program,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a released statement. “This alliance will provide both conferences with a deep roster of the best college football officials and will provide for greater efficiency and consistency in the training and evaluation of officials as well as enhanced opportunities for the recruitment of officials.”

The AAC reportedly removed Terry McAulay from his long-time role as the conference’s coordinator of football officiating, a role he held in the old Big East and carried over to the AAC amid conference realignment changes. The AAC confirmed McAulay will no longer be associated with the conference in that role. The statement from the AAC says the conference will hire a new Supervisor of Football Officials that will help manage the officiating in the AAC and act as a go-to contact for coaches around the league.

There is no word on whether or not this alliance will lead to a combined instant replay process with a central command hub for instant replay reviews. Instead, the alliance seems to focus on working with officials to ensure calls are being called consistently throughout each league. Having officials on the same page with calling penalties and managing a game has been a problem with few answers. This likely won’t guarantee a perfectly called game every week in each conference, but it may prove to be a step in the right direction.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has contract extended into 2022

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The American Athletic Conference announced a contract extension for commissioner Mike Aresco on Monday. Aresco, who has served as the commissioner of the conference since its founding following the split of the old Big East, will remain the commissioner until June 2022.

“Mike Aresco has done an outstanding job of leading the American Athletic Conference through its early years and I am very happy that he will continue on with us,” Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut and Chair of The American’s Board of Directors, said in a released statement. “Mike is a strong commissioner who is respected by the presidents and institutions within the Conference. It is important for The American to have excellent, consistent leadership and that is what Mike provides.”

Aresco oversaw the conference through its transition from the old Big East to its rebranded image as the American Athletic Conference in 2013 (Aresco was named Big East commissioner in August 2012, but was unable to save a sinking ship amid realignment changes in college sports). During his time as commissioner, the AAC has expanded with the additions of East Carolina, Tulsa and Tulane in all sports, Navy in football, and just recently with the addition of Wichita State basketball. Of course, Aresco has also been at the helm at a time when the Big East basketball schools split off following recent departures from the conference and saw Rutgers lured away by the Big Ten in the years after losing Louisville, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh to the ACC.

Aresco has also led the charge to have the AAC recognized as a power conference by its peers, which has been a worthy goal but a futile attempt in reality.

“I am extremely proud of the progress that this Conference has made,” Aresco said in a released statement. “Our presidents and athletic directors have made the commitment necessary for us to become a Power 6 conference and have, in a difficult environment, provided the vision and resources that have enabled our student-athletes and coaches to compete at the highest level.”

Perhaps the biggest win Aresco has seen during his watch was somehow avoiding having the Big 12 come picking at the conference last fall. Big 12 expansion candidates were believed to include a handful of AAC programs (Cincinnati, Houston, UCF, USF, Memphis), yet the Big 12 chose to not follow through with conference expansion, thus saving the AAC from being raided as the old Big East had in the past.

Big 12 non-expansion behind them, Mike Aresco refocuses on AAC’s Power Six case

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No conference dodged a bullet from the Big 12’s decision to not expand quite like the American Athletic Conference. If the Big 12 was to expand, the ACC could have potentially lost Cincinnati and Houston, and possibly more with Connecticut and SMU among the other possibilities for the Big 12 expansion drama. The Big 12 announced it will move forward with its current 10-member lineup, seemingly putting the AAC at ease for now. With that being the case, AAC commissioner Mike Aresco can once again focus on pushing the idea of the AAC being considered the sixth power conference in the nation.

“Glad it’s over. It’s been a long, tough process for everyone,” Aresco said, according to Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle. “Now we really need to resume, reinforce and enhance our Power Six narrative.”

The AAC has been singing this tune since the old days of the Big East. Conference realignment and the formation of the College Football Playoff essentially left the AAC without a chair at the grown-ups table at Thanksgiving. Instead, the conference from having a guaranteed spot in the old BCS lineup to having to compete with the other conferences sitting at the kids table (Mountain West Conference, Conference USA, MAC, Sun Belt Conference). This has left the conference frustrated by not being considered in the same boat as the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, but it has become the reality of the conference realignment era.

The AAC felt pretty good seeing Houston knock off Florida State in the Peach Bowl last year, and the conference needs more signature moments like that to build its case, especially in the regular season. Regardless of what happens, Aresco and the AAC will continue to argyue they are indeed a power conference, although the numbers show the conference is far behind what the others have to offer (see: TV contracts). But Aresco is in a position where he needs to stump for his conference, and he has shown he is never going to shy away from boastStateing about what his conference has to offer.

“Our brand is better known and more appreciated nationally than ever before,” Aresco explained. That may be true,but nobody is going to confuse the conference with ACC any time soon.