The American now has an identity as it marches forward
New York - The American Athletic Conference has a new look to go with its new name.
The conference formerly known as the Big East released its logo on Thursday.
"It's a very important step and it's another step in the rebranding of our conference and the reinvention of the American Athletic Conference," commissioner Mike Aresco said on a conference call Thursday.
The big block blue A with a red star at its center is part of the rebranding of the new conference, which will begin competition this fall.
"We think it's a bold, simple and elegant design that is aspirational in nature with the star. We think it's a unique design. We think it captures our vision, our identity."
The American will consist of Rutgers, Louisville, South Florida, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple, Central Florida, Memphis, Houston and SMU next year.
Rutgers and Louisville will leave after the 2013 season and Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina will move in in 2014. Navy is set to become the 12th member in 2015.
Aresco said there are no more plans in the works for future expansion and he's hopeful no more major conference realignment is on the horizon. "It does appear that there is a period of stability now," he said.
Despite the name change, the American will keep an automatic bid to the men's and women's basketball championships for its tournament champion.
And it will have an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series in 2014, the last season of that postseason system.
The Big East name will now belong to the seven basketball schools that broke away from the football schools to create a hoops-centric league that will be open for business this summer.
The American's conference offices will remain in Providence, despite the league's diminished northeast presence. But Aresco reiterated on Thursday, a move could come down the line.
The next two big items on the agenda for the American will be picking sites for its basketball tournaments and setting its bowl lineup for 2014 and beyond.
Aresco said the conference is planning to sign one-year deals with the venues for its men's and women's tournaments, and has narrowed the choices down to a handful of locations.
He confirmed that the Mohegan Sun is among the sites being considered, and says none of the league's schools has expressed any concern about holding the tournament at a gambling venue.
He says the casino has advantages, such as restaurants, hotels and entertainment on site.
Aresco says the championship game for the men's tournament will continue to be played on the Saturday evening prior to Selection Sunday.
As for bowls, the American had made a priority of holding on to its tie-ins with the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., and the Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
But the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference have been negotiating with the Pinstripe Bowl and the Big 12 is eyeing the Orlando game.
"We always like to keep incumbent bowls and yet there is always change," Aresco said. "We do expect to some changes."
Aresco said he expects the American to sign deals with between six and nine bowls. Some of those deals might be non-exclusive, where the American could share a bowl with another conference.
The conference is also working on starting its own bowl in South Florida. Aresco said the league is making progress on that project.
"We'd like to have the flexibility of running our own bowl," he said.
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