Big East renamed American Athletic Conference - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Big East renamed American Athletic Conference

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -

Memphis now knows the name of its soon-to-be new conference.

The current Big East will be called the American Athletic Conference starting next season.

The conference announced the decision Wednesday after university presidents approved the new moniker earlier in the day.

The Big East football schools were in need of a new name after they agreed to let seven basketball schools break away from the conference to start a new league this summer to be called the Big East.

"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 Commissioner Mike 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."

The American Athletic Conference will have 10 members in its first season: Rutgers, Louisville, Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston, SMU and Temple.

"The American Athletic Conference was a unanimous selection," said University of Memphis President, Dr. Shirley Raines. "The presidents and athletic directors worked closely with conference officials, who also sought input from the major television networks, public relations professionals and focus groups. This inclusive process was important, and I think this is an excellent choice for the name of the conference."

"Dr. Raines and I participated in a conference call this afternoon with fellow league members'" said Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen." A vote was called for and all were in agreement that the American Athletic Conference was a dynamic and representative name for our new league. The University of Memphis is committed to being the best possible member of the American Athletic Conference and through our competition with fellow members, is united in shining a national spotlight on the American Athletic Conference."

Rutgers and Louisville are likely leaving after 2013 and are set to be replaced by Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa in 2014. Navy is schedule to join in 2015.

With 12 football schools in the fold by 2015, it will play a football championship game.

Branding logos will be unveiled in the coming weeks, the league said.

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Associated Press College Football writer Ralph Russo contributed to this report.

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