AAC officially announces additions of UTSA, North Texas, and Rice

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The American Athletic Conference officially announced the additions of a trio of Texas schools. UTSA, North Texas, and Rice will join UAB, Charlotte, and Florida Atlantic as new additions to the conference at a date to be determined. Press releases from the in-state schools suggest that the move will happen for the 2023 football season. The move puts the future of Conference USA in doubt, a conference that UTEP remains in at the current time.

The AAC now possesses four Texas programs with SMU remaining. Houston announced a planned move to the Big 12 earlier in the year. The addition of Rice helps the AAC keep a foothold in Houston. The Owls might not be a feared football program but having a team from Houston in the conference allows that recruiting market to remain open to other members. UTSA gives the AAC an up-and-coming program in one of the largest cities in America. North Texas provides another footprint in Dallas-Fort Worth alongside SMU. 

The landscape of college football shifted dramatically over the summer when Texas and Oklahoma announced moves to the SEC. That left openings in the Big 12 that were filled by Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, and UCF. In turn, that created openings that needed to be filled in the AAC. Now, the Sun Belt looks poised to pick off a few more Conference USA programs such as Marshall and Southern Miss. 

The options for UTEP look limited. The Miners were not invited to the AAC, and reports don’t suggest that UTEP is in the running for a Sun Belt invite. Earlier in the week, the Mountain West announced that it had no plans on expanding in the current cycle. If Conference USA disbands, UTEP might look to playing as an independent for a couple of seasons in hopes of more movement in the conference ranks.  

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