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April 4, 2013
Tulsa's future conference, the current Big East, has announced that it will be renamed the American Athletic Conference and will rebrand as such at the conclusion of the 2012-13 sports seasons.
The change to 'The American' came one day after the league formally announced Tulsa as a full member for 2014 and will span across all platforms, associations and media according to the announcement made on Wednesday by Commissioner Mike Aresco after unanimous approval by the Conference's Board of Directors.
"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 Aresco. "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," Aresco added. "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."
Previous reports stated that Aresco was pushing America 12 as the new name, but the Board of Directors did not want a number included.
"Our exciting new name is the result of a thorough process that has energized our Conference," said Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and Chair of the Executive Committee. "The American Athletic Conference brand will embody the values of competition and sportsmanship that our student-athletes have always exemplified."
The Conference recently struck new television deals with ESPN and CBS Sports, and both companies praised the new name.
"The American Athletic Conference is a brand that suggests a national scope and quality membership," said Burke Magnus, Senior Vice President, College Sports Programming, ESPN. "It is an exciting time for the new conference and ESPN looks forward to our future together."
"We congratulate the American Athletic Conference on the selection of a terrific new name for college sports," said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. "We look forward to partnering with The American as they introduce their new brand and increase their presence as a conference going forward."
Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, the American Athletic Conference will consist of Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. The U.S. Naval Academy will become a football-only member in 2015. With 12 football schools in 2015, The American will hold a football championship game.