New Conference Gets New Name

The Big East Conference - the one that UConn belongs to, the one that plays football, the one that has been called the soon-to-be-named conference, the one that still has its office in Providence - has a new name. How does the American Athletic Conference grab you?

It's going to take some getting used to, isn't it?

Shortly after the new conference's name was announced Wednesday, former Connecticut basketball and NBA star Donyell Marshall posted this on Twitter:

"@Dmarsh42 Sorry but I refuse I repeat. I refuse to say that Uconn plays in the American Athletic Conference. Doesn't even sound right."

The new name took a battering on Twitter with comparisons to the ACC, the AAU, the AAA and AARP - with some insurance references thrown in for Connecticut.

Well, at least the confusion is over and everyone can move on, right?

Here's the press release from the conference, the league formerly known as the Big East but now the AAC.

Providence, R.I. -- The current Big East Conference has announced that it will be renamed the American Athletic Conference and will rebrand as such across all platforms, associations and media at the conclusion of the 2012-13 sports seasons. The announcement was made today by Commissioner Mike Aresco after unanimous approval by the Conference's Board of Directors.

"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 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."

"Our exciting new name is the result of a thorough process that has energized our Conference," said Judy Genshaft, President of the University of South Florida and Chair of the Executive Committee. "The American Athletic Conference brand will embody the values of competition and sportsmanship that our student-athletes have always exemplified."

"The American Athletic Conference is a brand that suggests a national scope and quality membership," said Burke Magnus, Senior Vice President, College Sports Programming, ESPN. "It is an exciting time for the new conference and ESPN looks forward to our future together."

"We congratulate the American Athletic Conference on the selection of a terrific new name for college sports," said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. "We look forward to partnering with The American as they introduce their new brand and increase their presence as a conference going forward."

Beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, the American Athletic Conference will consist of the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Connecticut, East Carolina University, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida, Temple University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa. The U.S. Naval Academy will become a football-only member in 2015. With 12 football schools in the fold by 2015, it will play a football championship game.

A full set of marks for the American Athletic Conference will be presented in the coming weeks.

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