The soon-to-be-renamed Big East finally has a new name: the American Athletic Conference.
The official introduction of the new conference name comes shortly after reports from CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler and ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy. According to the release, the Big East will rebrand as the American Athletic Conference "across all platforms, associations, and media" at the conclusion of the 2012-13 sports seasons.
"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," commissioner Mike Aresco explained. "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."
The Big East name will carry over to the basketball-focused conference created by seven non-football members of the current Big East. "The Catholic 7" -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- successfully negotiated to keep the name as part of their exit agreement.
Aresco has worked diligently to keep the remaining members of the Big East together, expanding the future membership to include East Carolina, Tulane, and most recently Tulsa. All three schools will officially join the American Athletic Conference in 2014, with Navy scheduled to join in 2015; giving the conference enough teams (12) for a two-division model with a conference championship game.
Aresco and his staff recently concluded negotiations on new television contracts with ESPN/ABC and CBS, but renaming the league was the first big step forward for the American Athletic Conference.
With Tulsa included, below is the expected membership of the new American Athletic Conference.
2014 -- Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, USF
2015 -- Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, USF