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Florida Atlantic to join American Athletic Conference

Owls have been members of Conference USA since 2013
American Athletic Conference Championship game logo on display in 2015
Posted at 10:22 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 18:07:16-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — It's official: Florida Atlantic University is headed to the American Athletic Conference.

The AAC announced Thursday that FAU is one of six schools whose applications for membership have been approved.

FAU will join Charlotte, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA as the newest members.

The Owls have been members of Conference USA since 2013, the same year that the AAC split off from the Big East Conference, which no longer sponsors football.

FAU Owls football players celebrate TD while wearing C-USA patches on their jerseys, Sept. 11, 2021
FAU wide receiver John Mitchell (85) celebrates with teammate D'Marcus Adams (17), wearing Conference USA patches on their jerseys, after scoring a touchdown against Georgia Southern, Saturday, Sept 11, 2021, in Boca Raton, Fla.

FAU was a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 2005 through the 2012-13 athletic year.

With the new additions, the AAC will become a 14-team league for football and basketball.

East Carolina, Memphis, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa are full AAC members.

Navy is a member of the AAC for football only, while Wichita State is an AAC member for basketball and its other Olympic sports.

"This is a momentous, historic day for Florida Atlantic University," FAU athletic director Brian White said in a statement, thanking AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco and its board of directors for the invitation to join "a prestigious conference such as the American."

"We greatly appreciate our time in Conference USA and have experienced great success in the conference," White added. "The increased exposure we'll receive in the American will ensure even more people learn about our wonderful institution."

FAU Owls basketball player William Pfister battles for loose ball vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota's Jordan Murphy and Florida Atlantic's William Pfister battle for the loose ball in the second half of a game Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, in Minneapolis.

The official announcement comes two days after officials from FAU and the AAC wouldn't comment on reports that the Boca Raton school was looking to leave C-USA for greener athletic pastures in the AAC.

"I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference," Aresco said in a news release accompanying the announcement. "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, 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 on CBS Sports."

A timeline for the move wasn't specified, but it would likely be no later than the 2024-25 athletic year. That's when Brigham Young, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston are leaving the AAC to join the Big 12 Conference, which is losing Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference.

It's also not immediately known what will become of FAU's rivalry with Florida International, which accompanied the Owls to C-USA in 2013.

The Owls won a conference championship in football as a member of the Sun Belt in 2007 and two C-USA titles in 2017 and 2019.