The new Big East will reportedly become the American Athletic Conference this year, according to ESPN's Brett Murphy. The conference was forced to look for new branding after the "Catholic Seven" basketball schools bought the rights to "Big East" when departing to form a new league.
The confirmation comes via McMurphy's Twitter account:
American Athletic Conference is new name for former Big East, sources told @espn— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) April 3, 2013
Yes, that's the "AAC." Yes, there's already a conference called the ACC. This will be confusing, and we might as well get it out of our system now. On the plus side, it will never be a misnomer, unlike so many of its fellow conferences which feature geography and numbers. Unless they go international, I guess.
It was among several that were reportedly discussed. "America 12" was a popular choice at one point. "The Metro" and "The United" were also among the list of names considered.
The conference has faced instability for much of the past decade, but it ramped up in recent years. The league sought to improve its football standing by adding TCU, Boise State, and San Diego State, but all those agreements fell through as other top programs began leaving the conference.
West Virginia started the exodus in 2011 by announcing its move to the Big 12. Pittsburgh and Syracuse followed by heading to the ACC. Those two schools will be gone in 2013, with Louisville following in 2014. Rutgers is headed to the Big Ten the same year, and that spurred the the next big fracture of the league.
The "Catholic Seven" basketball schools (Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, and DePaul) will be leaving and taking the Big East name with them next season. Notre Dame basketball will also be gone to the ACC.
With the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12, and SEC snatching up any major power, there wasn't much left for the old Big East to add after the departures. Tulane, Memphis, Houston, SMU, East Carolina, Central Florida, Navy, and Tulsa are scheduled to join the league in the next three years. Those additions weren't enough for the conference to maintain its status as a major-conference in college football, and all the money that comes with the designation.