Conference realignment continues! Mere weeks after losing a trio of schools to the Big 12, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) has reloaded and is set to add six new members, according to media reports this week.
The conference and schools have not yet confirmed the new realignment, but the move appears to be missing only the official paperwork. Each school must formally submit an application to join the AAC, with those membership applications then being voted upon by the pre-existing AAC members.
Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, UAB, UTSA, and Rice are the schools expected to join the AAC – all six are currently members of Conference USA and five of the six play softball, with Rice as the only exception.
UAB, North Texas, and Charlotte have all heavily raised the profile of their softball programs over the last few years, though all three have come up just shy of an NCAA tournament berth to this point as they continue their respective ascents.
In our “Where does AAC Softball go from here?” article earlier this fall, all six of these schools appeared on our graded list of possibilities. UAB, Charlotte, and North Texas were seen as the best options of the group in our estimation, with UAB earning “Home Run” status. We ranked FAU and UTSA as questionable options, at best, from a softball perspective and Rice was a “Swing and a Miss” due to their lack of a softball program.
According to multiple media reports, the 2023-24 season is the earliest that the programs could officially join the American as of now. As seems to be the case with so much related to conference realignment, that time frame appears to be fluid and could move earlier.
The addition of the five new softball programs will give the American a total of ten programs in the league. The five newcomers will join East Carolina, Memphis, South Florida, Tulsa, and Wichita State.