Providence, RI (Sports Network) - The BCS segment of the soon-to-be split Big East will be officially called the American Athletic Conference, the league announced Wednesday.
The new title was necessitated after the conference agreed to hand over the Big East name to the outgoing "Catholic 7" schools that are leaving the league to form a basketball-centric conference along with Butler, Creighton and Xaiver this coming July.
The new Big East's board of directors unanimously approved the American Athletic Conference name following an extensive market research initiative taken by the league.
"We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names," commissioner Mike Aresco said. Versions that included the word 'American' led every list. American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented conference."
The AAC will launch on July 1 with 10 members: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida and Temple. Louisville and Rutgers will depart in favor of the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, following the 2013-14 academic year, but the league will add East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa as full members beginning with the 2014-15 season.
Navy will join the AAC as a football-only member on July 1, 2015, enabling the league to field two six-team divisions and host a conference championship game in that sport.