AAC athletic directors set to speak about conference's future following departure of UConn
There's a legitimate chance the AAC does not add a program and remains at 11 teams
American Athletic Conference athletic directors will meet by conference call Friday to discuss the future of the league following the loss of UConn, two sources told CBS Sports.
The call will be led by commissioner Mike Aresco, and it is expected to be mostly informational. The general feeling around the AAC is that it should stay at 11 football-playing members, according to several sources.
However, that could change.
Any permanent decision on membership going forward would have to be made by AAC presidents.
CBS Sports previously reported that UConn will not be allowed to stay in the AAC as a football-only member. That hasn't stopped speculation that other football-only members could be added.
BYU, Arkansas State, Boise State, Liberty and Old Dominion are among those that have been mentioned as possible AAC football additions.
"The University of Connecticut has announced its withdrawal from the American Athletic Conference," Aresco said in a statement Thursday following the publication of this story. "We wish UConn well. We will next address the exit procedure mandated by our conference bylaws. Our conference will continue to move forward in pursuit of its national goals in football, men's and women's basketball, and Olympic sports."
Staying at 11 football members would not be an unusual decision by the ACC. The Big Ten played with 11 members for two decades after adding Penn State in 1990. However, staying at 11 would make the AAC the smallest FBS conference next to the Big 12 and Sun Belt (10 each).
Perhaps the AAC's biggest issue is its new ESPN deal that pays the league $1 billion over 12 years. With a membership of 12, AAC teams were set to receive approximately $7 million per year. CBS Sports reported last week that the ESPN contract contains language that allows for renegotiation if the AAC loses members.
Industry sources say there are few, if any, schools that could be added to the league that bring that $7 million annual valuation.
In 2016, the Big 12 years ago spearheaded an NCAA rule change allowing conferences with less than 12 schools to stage a conference championship game.
The 12-team minimum had been in place since 1992.
AAC officials will next meet in person July 15-16 at the conference's football media days in Newport, Rhode Island.
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