Michael Aresco, commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, speaks to reporters in the press box of Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field before an NCAA college football game between Connecticut and Virginia Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in East H
Bill Sikes
September 17, 2016

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco says that his conference would not necessarily replace schools that leave for another league.

Several American programs have been mentioned as prime candidates for the expansion of the Big 12, which is considering adding two, or perhaps as many as four schools.

Aresco, speaking before Saturday's football game between Virginia and UConn, said the American has been making contingency plans and would be ready to react to whatever the Big 12 decides to do.

''We've got our checklist,'' he said. ''We know what we need to do should something happen.''

But, he also said the conference could survive with 10 member schools and still hold a football championship game, and therefore would not be forced to add teams just for the sake keeping the conference at 12 members.

''I don't want to insult any schools that might want to be in our league...but, I don't want to dilute the brand in any way,'' he said. ''I think we have a good brand now.''

He said his priority is to put a winning product on the field and get a better TV deal.

''We don't have to have four or five teams in the Top 25 every year,'' he said. ''But we've got to be competitive.''

Aresco also said the conference has made no decision about whether to move its softball championship tournament this spring from North Carolina. But he noted that it is not at a neutral site and East Carolina is hosting the event as part of a rotation, not because of any bid for the tournament.

The NCAA and ACC have pulled championship events from North Carolina over a law, known as HB2, which excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections.

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