If the NCAA does indeed split into a fourth tier for big money, power conference schools, the members of the American Athletic Conference want to be a part of it, according to CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler's report from AAC Media Days. The payoff for being at a new top level of college athletics could be huge, perhaps even if it means spending a lot more money on player compensation just to be there.
A new division within the NCAA would likely be based on the level of expenditures each school can make, which would mean that many of the schools in the American would have to bump up their budgets. Complicating things is their new television contract, which is a minuscule $2 million per year for each school compared to the $20-plus million deals for the Big Ten and SEC. The new money coming from the College Football Playoff contract would help pay for boosted expenditures, which may include some kind of stipend or compensation system for players, but that's conjecture at this point.
Major conference commissioners like Jim Delany and Bob Bowlsby have made reference to the "five" conferences when discussing the future of major college athletics, which would mean that the American has not been involved thus far. However, if they're willing to pay the price, then it will be tough to keep them out.