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Six Conference USA schools to join American Athletic Conference

Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Six Conference USA schools -- Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, UTSA, North Texas, Rice and UAB -- accepted invitations to join the American Athletic Conference, it was announced Thursday.

The AAC didn't reveal a specific date for the universities to join the conference, but ESPN reported that the earliest the schools could join would be the 2023-24 season.

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"I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference," AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade.

"We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference's men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports teams.

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"And we will continue to provide valuable inventory to our major media rights partner, ESPN, which will feature our members on the most prominent platforms in sports media. Additionally, we increase the value in live content options for CBS Sports, which features selected men's basketball games from the conference."

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Once all announced realignments are finalized, the additions will bring the AAC's membership to 15 schools. The American is replacing Cincinnati, UCF and Houston, which were accepted into the Big 12 last month after that league discovered it was losing Texas and Oklahoma to the Southeastern Conference.

Under AAC bylaws, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston have exit dates of July 1, 2024, though Aresco previously said the conference would be willing to negotiate an earlier exit fee to accommodate their departures from the league.

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The six C-USA schools will join AAC holdovers Memphis, East Carolina, Navy (football only), SMU, Temple, South Florida, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State (which doesn't have a football program).

Conference USA is now down to eight members after the departures of the six institutions.

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