July 1, 2013
HOUSTON - The University of Houston took another historic step Monday as it officially became a member of The American Athletic Conference, its sixth athletic conference in the 67-year history of the University's athletics program.
The move signifies the end of Houston's 17-year run in Conference USA. During the Conference USA era, Houston student-athletes combined for 162 All-America honors, 148 NCAA postseason appearances and 59 Conference USA titles.
Houston's first conference membership was with the Lone Star Conference (1946-48) before a one-year stint in 1949 with the Gulf Coast Conference. After a year of independence in 1950, Houston spent nine years in the Missouri Valley Conference before 16 additional years as an independent. In 1976, Houston began a 20-year stint in the Southwest Conference before joining Conference USA in 1996.
Not entirely unlike the nation that provides its namesake, the American Athletic Conference was born from an ideal in which members with ambitious goals are provided with the means to succeed in their quests for excellence.
With roots that extend to three conferences, the American Athletic Conference membership in 2013 - its debut season - consists of 10 institutions: the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Connecticut, the University of Houston, the University of Louisville, the University of Memphis, Rutgers University, Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida and Temple University.
In 2014-15, East Carolina University, Tulane University and the University of Tulsa come aboard. The 2015-16 season sees the U.S. Naval Academy join the ranks in football only.
The American, which operated as the Big East Conference from 1979 to 2013, will immediately take a place at the forefront of Division I athletics, with schools that have played in a combined five Bowl Championship Series games, won four NCAA men's basketball titles since 1999, and won eight NCAA women's basketball championships since 1995.
Among the league's 2013 members, seven of The American's 10 football teams have been ranked in the top 13 in the BCS since 2006. Eight of the 10 teams have been in the BCS top 25 in that span. The 2013-14 membership will also include the most recent NCAA men's basketball (Louisville) and women's basketball (UConn) champions.
The 2013 season will mark the final year of a six-year arrangement with ESPN that gives The American national exposure on ABC television and the ESPN family of networks. ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC will carry a minimum of 19 American home football games each season. Championship Week in December includes three American games on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. At least four American games are featured on ESPN's Thursday-night package.
In addition, ESPN Regional Television will continue to produce and distribute its Game of the Week package to a nationally syndicated audience, reaching more than 30 million homes. Most of these games also will be available as part of the ESPN GamePlan subscription service. Finally, a minimum of five home games will be carried on ESPNU.
Following the 2013 football season, the American Athletic Conference enters new television partnerships with ESPN and CBS Sports which will give the conference unprecedented national exposure. The football portion of the contract, which begins in the 2014 season, calls for nearly 90 percent of conference-controlled games on national broadcast or national cable platforms. The first American Athletic Conference Football Championship, which will be played in 2015, will be carried either on ABC or ESPN on Championship Saturday.
In men's basketball, the new television deal calls for all conference-controlled games to be televised, with more than 63 percent slotted for national broadcast or national cable - a minimum of 107 games. The entire postseason tournament will be televised, including the championship game, which will be either on ABC or ESPN. Sixty percent of the American's women's basketball games will be carried on either national cable, regional sports networks or ESPN3.
American Athletic Conference teams will have access to the pinnacle of college football's postseason structure, both in the coming season and beyond. In 2013-14, the league champion will receive an automatic bid for the final edition of the Bowl Championship Series, including a spot in the VIZIO National Championship Game if it is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the final BCS standings. Moving forward, The American champion would be chosen for the College Football Playoff semifinals if it is among the top four teams following the regular season. Otherwise, the league would place its champion in either the Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Peach Bowl if it is ranked higher than the champions of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt Conference.
The American has additional partnerships with a number of bowl games that match conference teams against opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Southeastern Conference and Conference USA.
The Russell Athletic Bowl has the first selection of American teams after the conference's BCS representative is determined. The Atlantic Coast Conference will provide the opposition for the Russell Athletic Bowl, which is played in Orlando, Fla.
The American also is a partner with the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Played in Bank of America Stadium, the Belk Bowl will select its American Athletic Conference participant after the Russell Athletic Bowl with the ACC again providing the opponent.
The American and the Big 12 conferences partner for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City. In the event that the Big 12 is unable to send an eligible team to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Notre Dame could step in as the American team's opponent.
An American representative will face either an opponent from the Southeastern Conference or the Conference USA champion as part of arrangements with the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
The league also holds a partnership with the Beef `O'Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Beef `O'Brady's Bowl pairs the American representative against an opponent from Conference USA.
The postseason lineup gives American Athletic Conference teams access to at least six postseason games.
The American Athletic Conference administers to its membership from a state-of-the-art office located in Providence, R.I. The location of the conference headquarters - just steps from the city's Amtrak station and 10 minutes from T.F. Green International Airport - gives the conference easy access to its member schools.
The conference headquarters is equipped with a complete video production studio and small- and large-scale meeting rooms to accommodate the many coaches' and administrators' meetings held on-site each year.
FOOTBALL SEASON TICKETS & PARKING
Season tickets for the 2013 Houston Football season are on sale and fans are encouraged to purchase their season tickets early with the 2013 renewal deadline set for July 9.
Fans can purchase season tickets covering seven games for as low as $150. Families will enjoy the Memorial Hermann Family Plan for only $299. Under the Memorial Hermann Family Plan, fans will receive two adult and two youth General Admission tickets with additional youth tickets costing only $75 each.
To purchase season tickets, fans can call 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647) or 877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275) or visit the Athletics Ticket Office, located on the first floor of the Athletics/Alumni Center from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To secure parking spaces, secure a priority parking pass for the season and receive other donor benefits through Cougar Pride for the upcoming season, fans should contact the Cougar Pride Office at 713-743-GOUH (4684) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Fans also can visit UHCougars.com and click the Cougar Pride tab where the most continually updated 2013 and 2014 information will be available or click here.