APRIL 4 2013 UPDATE
Conference realignment: Big East becomes American Athletic Conference
Published Wednesday, Apr 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm EDT
Tom GattoSporting News
The conference currently known as the Big East will become the American Athletic Conference.
Conference officials and television executives announced the change Wednesday. It will be effective at the end of the 2012-13 athletic season.
This Big East logo is about to become extinct. (Big East Conference)
The conference announced the decision after university presidents approved the new moniker earlier in the day.
“Versions (of the new name) that included the word ‘American’ led every list,” conference commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and an inspirational name for our re-invented Conference.”
The name change was needed after the conference broke up earlier this year. A group of schools dubbed the Catholic 7 (Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Providence St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova) formed their own conference and kept the Big East name as part of a settlement with the now-American schools.
Conference officials are emphasizing the shorthand name The American as it begins rebranding the league.
The American will have 10 teams in 2013-14: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, Temple, UCF and USF. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa will join the conference for all sports in July 2014, replacing Louisville (Atlantic Coast Conference) and Rutgers (Big Ten). Navy will join the conference as a football-only member in 2015.
The rebuilt conference has new television deals in place with ESPN and CBS.
“The American Athletic Conference is a brand that suggests a national scope and quality membership,” said Burke Magnus, senior vice president, college sports programming, for ESPN. “It is an exciting time for the new conference and ESPN looks forward to our future together.”
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy was first to report the name change.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
THE NCAA SOFTBALL BERTH
The Big East as currently constituted has onr of the automatic berths in the NCAA D1 softball tournament. Spy has asked NCAA whether the Big East as reconstituted keeps that berth, or does it follow the new American Athletic Conference, or will each conference have a berth in 2014?
The Sporting News story fails to mention that one current Big East power – Notre Dame – is set to play in the ACC in 2014 in all sports except football. While the final list of 201 teams for the reconstituted Big East has not been made official, according to the Associated press, Creighton, Boise State have been mentioned. At this point, only one team has made it to the WCWS in the past – DePaul. The nationally-ranked softball teams emerge in the new American AC.
SOFTBALL ON TV Alabama vs Missouri, Friday, 9pm, and, Saturday at 3pm. Oklahoma vs Baylor at 3pm Sunday. All on ESPNU.
NIKE EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH USA SOFTBALL
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Amateur Softball Association (ASA), the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, and Nike announced today that the company has extended its contract as the exclusive apparel and footwear provider of the USA Softball Women’s National team program through 2016.
A partnership dating back to 1999, Nike and USA Softball have teamed up for over a decade now outfitting Team USA through three Olympic Games and most recently at the 2012 International Softball Federation (ISF) World Championships where the U.S. took home the silver medal. As the exclusive provider, Nike is the official sponsor of all travel, training, podium and on-field apparel as well as footwear, accessories, headwear and bat bags.
“Nike’s commitment to USA Softball has been a footprint and foundation of our program dating back to the 90s,” said Ron Radigonda, ASA/USA Softball Executive Director. “They truly believe in assisting our elite athletes to be the best when they take the field to represent our country. The product, dedication and support of Nike has had huge impact on our program and we can’t thank them enough for their loyalty.”
In addition, Nike has been a supporter of USA Softball PINK OUT game that has taken place every summer since 2008 with autograph auction proceeds of over $50,000 benefiting the Central and Western Oklahoma Susan G. Komen Foundation. Their generosity and support has helped promote breast cancer awareness to softball fans and athletes across the globe.