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AAC Adds Six Conference USA Schools in Expansion

The American Athletic Conference is adding six schools as part of its expansion, the conference announced Thursday.

Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, North Texas, UTSA, Rice and UAB will all join the AAC, with their membership date to be determined.

“On behalf of the American Athletic Conference presidents, I look forward to years of healthy competition with our six new members,” Michael Fitts, president of Tulane University and chair of The American’s board of directors, said in a statement. “I am confident that we have not only added fine institutions that share our collective ambition for national success, but we have done so in a deliberate and sensible way that will contribute to the long-term future of the conference.”

On Wednesday, Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported that the schools had received their formal invitations to join the conference. 

The expansion takes the AAC to 14 teams in both football and basketball (Navy is a football-only member while Wichita State does not have a football program).

Sources confirmed to Sports Illustrated last week that Conference USA had sent a letter to the AAC that proposed reorganizing the two leagues based on geography. Rather, the AAC is on the verge of poaching six schools from the conference.

According to Thamel, the exit fee required to depart Conference USA is about $3 million per school. 

Last month, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF agreed to join the Big 12 with a view toward joining the conference in the 2023 season, SI's Ross Dellenger reports.   

“The DNA in this league isn’t going to change,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco told Sports Illustrated last month. “Our remaining schools have competed extremely well with the schools leaving. The schools leaving have had success, but they’re not dynasties. We’ll add schools and we’ll replenish and reconstitute.”

Colorado State and Air Force were previously expected to join the AAC before recommitting to the Mountain West earlier this month. 

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