ECU Welcomed to the American

East Carolina's transition to the American Athletic Conference is official as of July 1. Commissioner Mike Aresco made the Pirates feel welcome in their new conference.

July 1 marks the official transition to the American Athletic Conference for East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa. Commissioner Mike Aresco welcomed the trio to the conference Tuesday morning.

"Our new schools will bring energy, strong athletic programs and academic quality to our distinguished conference," said Aresco in a letter posted to TheAmerican.org. "We have enjoyed a remarkable inaugural year. We quickly established ourselves as one of America's premier conferences, and we are firmly in the power conference conversation. We will accept nothing less than excellence."

While the membership was just made official Tuesday, ECU director of athletics Jeff Compher has felt home in the conference for some time now.

"(Aresco) has made us feel a part of the American from the time I arrived 13 months ago," said Compher in a press conference last Tuesday. "He has welcomed us. We went to their meetings last year. We've been, obviously, to the meetings this year. He has done so much to make us feel a part of the American Conference from the moment I got here."

The American turned heads on the national scene in its debut year. In football, UCF finished with a 12-1 (8-0 AAC) record and decisively defeated Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. UConn's men's and women's basketball teams each claimed national championships, too. ECU will enjoy the attention that comes with competing in a conference bent on establishing itself as a powerhouse.

"(Aresco) was named commissioner in 2012 and has overseen a real strategic reinvention of our conference in a very tumultuous time," Compher. "The last year and a half for him have been a challenge. This year, under his leadership, the conference has taken a media place in the forefront of athletics."

Another source of national attention will come with the American's television deals.

"Our new schools will enjoy unprecedented television coverage, which will serve to build their identities and their brands," said Aresco. "They will become better known nationally, and viewers around the country will see the quality of their programs. They will be joining a group of schools which are determined to continue to challenge for championships and national recognition."

ECU, as well as Tulane and Tulsa, will compete in the American in all sports. The Pirates were initially invited only as a football member, but were eventually extended an invitation as full members. When Navy joins in 2015, the conference will be set.

"We also take satisfaction in the knowledge that our conference composition as of today will be out composition going forward, with the notable exception of adding the United States Naval Academy next summer," said Aresco.

The Pirates are coming off a strong, 10-win football season that saw them topple North Carolina and North Carolina State on the road. They also finished the basketball season with a modest 17-17 record that, considering all the pieces the team lost throughout the year, is a success.

July 1 marks the end of the Conference USA chapter for three programs and the beginning of the American chapter.

"On behalf of the American Athletic Conference, I take great pride in extending a warm welcome to our new schools," said Aresco, "and wish them well in the intense and rewarding competition ahead. We all know that the best is yet to come!"


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