UConn, AAC agree on $17M early exit fee; football program to become Independent
Storrs — UConn's athletic department made some important news on a pair of fronts Friday.
The school announced it reached an agreement with the American Athletic Conference that will allow the Huskies to depart the AAC after the upcoming academic year and join the Big East Conference on July 1, 2020.
It also announced that its football program will become an independent in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2020 instead of looking for a new football-only conference home.
Both moves were expected.
UConn will pay a $17 million exit fee, which will be paid incrementally and must be completed by the end of the 2026 fiscal year. AAC bylaws stipulate any school seeking to leave the conference must give 27 months' notice and pay a $10 million exit fee, but the two sides negotiated the higher fee for UConn to leave sooner.
The Huskies will join the Big East in all sports except football, men's and women's ice hockey and rowing. Both hockey programs are members of Hockey East.
The football program will immediately begin to construct a schedule for 2020 (and beyond) immediately.
The Huskies already have four games contracted for 2020 — home games against UMass, Maine and Indiana, and a road game at Illinois — so plenty of work must be done quickly to produce a 12-game schedule.
Syracuse and Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference are two Power 5 schools looking for a 12th game in 2020. They could be potential opponents for UConn along with Army, which also has an open date.
The Huskies are also expected to search for future opponents along the East Coast. When UConn was transitioning to the Division I (now FBS) level at the turn of the century, it played home-and-home series against four other ACC schools — Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Wake Forest. Those games were appealing to the fanbase, as well as those opponents because it allowed them to play a non-conference game with limited travel expenses.
Temple, Cincinnati and Navy — UConn's closest AAC opponents — may also want to continue playing the Huskies for the same reason, and head coach Randy Edsall would undoubtedly want to play any FBS school in Florida for recruiting purposes.
UConn is also expected to negotiate an independent television contract and a potential bowl tie-in, two critical areas that will be vital in providing the school with additional revenue while allowing the Huskies to remain attractive on the recruiting front.
"Some of the finest moments in UConn athletics history came during our time as a member of the American Athletic Conference and I am grateful to The American for providing a home to many of our teams over the last six years," athletic director David Benedict said in a release. "I would like to thank Mike Aresco and his staff for their professionalism during this process and we look forward to writing a memorable final chapter in 2019-20."
Aresco said, "I want to thank David Benedict for his leadership and cooperation in reaching a swift and amicable resolution regarding UConn's departure, and also UConn president Susan Herbst for her support of the conference. We appreciate UConn's accomplishments in The American, we wish them the best, and we thank them for their contributions over the past six years."
UCONN FOOTBALL / FUTURE SCHEDULES
Sept. 3, UMass; Sept. 12, at Illinois; Sept. 19, at Maine; Sept. 26, Indiana.
Sept. 2, Holy Cross; Sept. 11, Purdue; Oct. 9, at UMass; Nov. 13, at Clemson.
Sept. 3, Central Connecticut; Sept. 24, at North Carolina State; Nov. 19, Boston College.
Sept. 2, Duke; Sept. 9, Lafayette; Sept. 23, North Carolina State; Nov. 18, at Boston College.
Sept. 14, at Duke.
Aug. 30, Central Connecticut; Sept. 13, at Purdue.
Sept. 5, Lafayette.