The American Athletic Conference is willing to let departing teams go before 2024 for a higher exit fee, according to a report from CBS Sports.
The conference realignment rumors 2021 is a topic that has been in the news for a while. The American Athletic Conference is willing to let departing teams go before 2024 for a higher exit fee.
Commissioner Mike Aresco told ESPN on Friday that the American Athletic Conference would be prepared to negotiate a larger exit price to accommodate the early exits of UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston to the Big 12.
Before leaving the AAC, colleges must provide a 27-month notice and pay a $10 million buyout fee, according to AAC rules. According to Aresco, if the three institutions followed the rules, they would be out on July 1, 2024. While no discussions have yet taken place, Aresco expects them to begin talks to modify the departure price.
“We usually do,” he said, “because it’s not a nice scenario when you know someone is going.” “Often, you can mitigate some of that by simply negotiating a higher exit fee and having them leave earlier, so we’ll certainly be willing to negotiate that as we’ve done in the past and as other conferences have done in the past, but I can’t tell you exactly what year at this point because no one has indicated what year.”
Terry Mohajir, UCF’s athletic director, said his institution is “open to any possibilities.”
“We’re going to assess where we are with our deal with the American,” Mohajir added, “and all alternatives are on the table right now.”
Meanwhile, after the three exits, Aresco said his conference intends to “deliberately and quickly” add two to four clubs, bringing the total number of teams in the league to ten or twelve. Aresco refused to identify particular colleges in which the AAC is interested, saying instead that it would only “entertain institutions that have expressed an interest in us.”
He said, “We’re not trying to poach, we’re not trying to convince.” “There have been certain schools that have shown an interest in working with us. I’m attempting to avoid causing any systemic instability…. We’re simply trying to regroup right now. We’re well aware that we need to expand. Based on what’s occurred, that’s simply a fact of life, but I’m trying not to stir things up.”
Aresco said the AAC will likely want members from all sports, not just football, although that’s a possibility as well.
He said, “Ultimately, we want to be stronger than we were.” “We believe there are colleges that are interested in us and would be willing to assist us.”
“We simply want to locate schools that think similarly, have that DNA of success, and are culturally compatible, both academically and socially,” he said. “Geography is important to some extent, but it is becoming less so since transport has improved dramatically.”
Aresco has long advocated for the AAC to be given the same autonomy as the Power 5 conferences, and he has campaigned for his league to be dubbed the “Power 6.” On Friday, he underlined that he would continue that endeavor with the new membership, as well as seek to reform a structure that makes it difficult for conferences to move into – and out of – that autonomous position.
“I believe we’ll have a better argument because, if you add TCU and BYU, the Big 12 has nearly half of its membership come from non-power rankings,” he said. “The general consensus is that we were a P6 and that the system couldn’t or wouldn’t support it.”
“The decision needs to come through the NCAA’s legislative process again,” said Houston president Renu Khator, who sits on the NCAA’s Board of Governors, the organization’s top governing body.
Aresco said he hopes UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston do well in the Big 12, and that many individuals from those institutions have contacted him, including Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who sent a “absolutely beautiful” letter.
“You can’t take it personally,” Aresco said. “It’s not pleasant to go through, and no one would argue that you shouldn’t put on a cheerful front, but you have to. It has a human element to it. And these are all individuals that did an excellent job at the conference and were devoted members, and they clearly believe it is in their best interests to continue doing what they’re doing, which you must respect and move on from.”
Andrea Adelson of ESPN contributed to this story.
The American Athletic Conference is willing to let departing teams go before 2024 for a higher exit fee. The conference has been in talks with the Big East and other conferences about a possible merger. Reference: aac tv contract.
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