AAC Announces Fall Sports Plan
The American Athletic Conference Board of Directors has announced the conference’s plan and timeline for the start of athletics competition for the Fall 2020 season.
Approval was unanimous after consultation with the conference’s COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, athletic directors and senior woman administrators.
The plan calls for regular-season intraconference competition in football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball, capped by conference championship events in those sports, as well as men’s and women’s cross country. The American’s 12 member schools will be able to schedule nonconference competitions in fall sports at their discretion, but under the guidelines and protocols set by the Medical Advisory Group. The number of qualifying teams for conference championships in men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball has been reduced to four.
“With the guidance of the health experts on the COVID-19 Medical Advisory Board and through the diligent work of the athletics staffs at our schools and at the conference, we have a sensible direction for the return of intercollegiate athletics in the fall,” said M. David Rudd, president of the University of Memphis and chair of The American’s Board of Directors. “The safety of our students, staff members and campus communities will continue to be our top priority. We are confident that the protocols put together by our Medical Advisory Group will guide a safe return to play. As medical information evolves, we will update our plans in conjunction with national, state and local guidelines.”
“The health and safety of our student-athletes is our top priority as we face the challenges of the current global pandemic,” said American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco. “With the guidance and advice of our Medical Advisory Group, which has done an outstanding job developing health and safety protocols, we have developed a collaborative and comprehensive plan that will allow us safely and reasonably to play our fall sports. Our plan provides us with the flexibility to adapt to potential disruptions to our schedules. I want to thank our board of directors, our Medical Advisory Group, athletic directors, senior woman administrators and conference office staff for their thoughtful input and approach to what is one of the most challenging situations we will face.”
In football, the plan calls for conference competition to begin Sept. 19 and for each of The American’s teams to play eight conference games on their originally scheduled dates. Nonconference games may be played at the discretion of the individual schools, with the understanding that the opponents will strictly adhere to protocols and standards for testing, pregame, in-game and postgame operations set by The American’s Medical Advisory Group. Depending on the need to potentially reschedule regular-season games, The American Football Championship will be played on either Dec. 5, 12 or 19 at the stadium of the regular-season champion. A decision regarding the date of the championship game will be made no earlier than Nov. 1.
Institutions may schedule regular season cross country competitions at their discretion on or after Sept 1. The American Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championships are scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31, at 4 Mile Creek Resort in Augusta, Kansas.
The American’s six men’s soccer teams will play a 10-match double-round-robin schedule of conference matches. Conference matches will be played on Saturdays, beginning Sept. 5, but may be moved to Friday or Sunday if a conflict with a home football game exists. Midweek matches against nonconference opponents may be scheduled on or after Sept. 1 only if the opponent meets the standards and testing guidelines set by The American’s Medical Advisory Group. Midweek matches may not be scheduled if an institution would have to utilize air travel and/or an overnight hotel stay. The four-team 2020 American Men’s Soccer Championship will be held either Nov. 12 and 14 or Nov. 13 and 15 at the site of the No. 1 seed based on regular-season standings. In the event that the No. 1 seed is unable to host the championship due to travel restrictions or state or local regulations, the site shall be the campus of the next-highest seed.
The American’s nine women’s soccer teams will play an eight-match single-round-robin schedule of conference matches. Conference matches will be played on Sundays, beginning Sept. 6. Midweek matches against nonconference opponents may be scheduled on or after Sept. 1 only if the opponent meets the standards and testing guidelines set by The American’s Medical Advisory Group. Midweek matches may not be scheduled if an institution would have to utilize air travel and/or an overnight hotel stay. The four-team 2020 American Women’s Soccer Championship will be held Nov. 6 and 8 at the site of the No. 1 seed based on regular-season standings. In the event that the No. 1 seed is unable to host the championship due to travel restrictions or state or local regulations, the site shall be the campus of the next-highest seed.
The American will feature a two-division format in which each team will play the other teams in its division twice at the same site. The East Division will consist of UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Temple and USF. The West Division will include Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa and Wichita State. Conference play will begin during the Sept. 24-27 weekend and will conclude the weekend of Nov. 12-15. Conference matches may be scheduled between Thursday and Sunday. Three weekends will be available for nonconference opportunities, on or after Sept. 1. The 2020 American Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held Nov. 21-22 at Fifth Third Arena on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. The top two teams from each division, based on regular-season standings, will qualify for the championship.
Decisions regarding Fall 2020 competition in the sports of baseball, softball, women’s lacrosse, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis will be announced at a later date. Decisions for potential modifications to The American’s winter sports (basketball, swimming and diving, indoor track and field) will also be announced at a later date.
The American’s health and safety protocols developed by its Medical Advisory Group will be announced at a later date. The conference’s Medical Advisory Group will continue to meet regularly regarding protocols for the safe return of fall competition.
THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
The American Athletic Conference (The American), a member of the NCAA, was reconstituted in 2013. With the conference office in Irving, Texas, The American is comprised of the following institutions: UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy (in football only), USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane Tulsa and Wichita State (basketball and Olympic sports). Under the leadership of Commissioner Mike Aresco, The American sponsors 22 championships – 10 for men and 12 for women; is a member of the College Football Playoff; has television partnerships with ESPN and CBS Sports; in the spring of 2019, signed a landmark television agreement with ESPN that commences in 2020-21; and has a marketing partnership with Learfield. For more information, please visit www.TheAmerican.org.