When it comes to conference realignment, Notre Dame, Miami, Arizona State and USF are all a little more desirable and have a little more clout today than they did yesterday.

The Association of American Universities — AAU — announced the addition of six new members on Thursday, including the aforementioned four schools, plus UC Riverside and George Washington.

“I’m excited to invite these six diverse institutions to AAU,” AAU board chair and University of Southern California president Carol L. Folt said in a statement. “AAU members are distinguished by the quality of their education and research. It is a testament to our higher education system that we have this many leading research universities in every corner of our country.

“Congratulations to the faculty, staff and students for this recognition of their hard work and their leadership in research and education. We look forward to our joint efforts to continue to transform lives through higher education.”

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While AAU membership isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind in discussions surrounding conference realignment, both the Big Ten and Pac-12 have valued membership in the association in the past when adding to their respective conferences, per Sports Illustrated.

Of the now 69 AAU member schools in the United States, 13 are currently in the Big Ten — Nebraska is the only non-AAU university in the conference — with two more on the way in USC and UCLA.

In the Pac-12, meanwhile, Arizona, Cal, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington are all members, with Arizona State now gaining entry as well.

Other notable AAU universities — when it comes to college football especially — include North Carolina (ACC), Texas (Big 12, soon to be SEC), Duke (ACC), Texas A&M (SEC), Virginia (ACC), Georgia Tech (ACC), Vanderbilt (SEC), Florida (SEC), Pittsburgh (ACC), Missouri (SEC) and Kansas (Big 12).

The AAU is “an association of leading comprehensive research universities distinguished by the breadth and quality of their programs of (a) academic research and scholarship and (b) graduate education,” with membership gained upon invitation.

Per the association’s membership policy, “the association does not have a specific limit on the number of its members, it values remaining a relatively small organization whose composition enables productive meetings and collegial relationships among the member presidents and chancellors. It endeavors to balance these characteristics of the association with the expectation that its membership will include the leading research-intensive universities.”

Currently there are only a few AAU schools at the FBS level that are not in a Power Five football conference.

Those include: Tulane (AAC), Rice (AAC), USF (AAC) and Buffalo (MAC).

What did Notre Dame, Miami, Arizona State and USF have to say about entry into the AAU?

“From deep space to deep in the oceans, Arizona State is a university designed for discovery, interdisciplinary research and innovation. As one of the fastest-growing research enterprises in the United States, we are focused on solving society’s greatest challenges, and we are excited to be part of the AAU.”
Arizona State University president Michael Crow

“Today is a great day for all of us who love and support the University of Miami. This designation acknowledges a transformational level of activities and outcomes in research, graduate and undergraduate education, and other areas that demonstrate compelling performance across the institution. As a group of affiliated institutions with common and complementary characteristics, the AAU offers an invaluable network across higher education and beyond. Whether we are looking at innovation and discovery, the dissemination of knowledge and promotion of understanding, the celebration of our diverse and unique experiences, or the contributions of higher education to evidence-based public policies, best practices, and upward social mobility, our work is rooted in one enlightening purpose: to change people’s lives and our shared planet for the better.”
University of Miami president Julio Frenk

“Our mission at Notre Dame is to be a preeminent research university, provide an unsurpassed undergraduate education and to have all we do informed by our Catholic mission. We are honored to be invited to join the AAU, heartened by the AAU board’s recognition of our progress as a research university, and we look forward to participating in this august organization.”
— Notre Dame University president Rev. John I. Jenkins

“The University of South Florida is honored to accept an invitation to become an AAU member and join the most prestigious association in higher education. This is a historic and momentous achievement for USF. Especially when considering we were founded in 1956, to now officially be recognized by our peers as one of America’s leading research universities is a shining example of our university community’s determination, innovative spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence. Reaching this milestone only strengthens our ambition to improve lives and positively shape the future of our society.”
— University of South Florida president Rhea Law