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Another round of conference realignment is reportedly on the way

The American Athletic Conference, which is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12, is going on the offensive.

UTSA’s Clarence Hicks (9) celebrates with teammate DeQuarius Henry (45) after sacking UNLV quarterback Cameron Friel (7) during the second half of an NCAA football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas. UTSA won 24-17.
Darren Abate, AP

When news broke that Texas and Oklahoma had decided to leave the Big 12 Conference for the SEC, the prevailing thought was that additional dominoes would fall shortly afterward. Once conference expansion/realignment starts, it is hard to stop.

That sentiment proved accurate. The Big 12 elected to expand, inviting BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join, with the Cougars slated to start competition in 2023, the rest in 2024.

Conference realignment wasn’t about to end there, and on Monday night Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that the AAC, the former home of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, is going on the offensive.

Thamel reported that the league is going to examine conference expansion again this week, with six schools expected to send in applications to join. Those schools, per Thamel, are:

  • Charlotte
  • FAU (Florida Atlantic)
  • North Texas
  • Rice
  • UTSA (UT-San Antonio)
  • UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

According to Thamel, all six applicants are expected to be accepted into the AAC, which will grow to a 14-team league (in both football and basketball).

All six schools are currently in Conference USA. Notably, UTSA (7-0) is undefeated and ranked No. 24 in the country in the most recent AP Poll, while North Texas is considered a “very desirable mid major job,” per The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman.

Rice, North Texas and UTSA would join SMU as the AAC schools in Texas, FAU and USF would represent the conference in Florida, and Charlotte and ECU would do the same in North Carolina. UAB, desirable because its location, per CBS Sports Dennis Dodd, would give the AAC a presence in Alabama.

Conference USA exit fees, according to reporting by Thamel, are roughly $3 million dollars per school.