A key realignment domino fell in the American Athletic Conference’s favor on Wednesday as the league extended a welcome to Army as a football-only member starting in 2024. The move fills the void left by Southern Methodist’s pending departure for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“We did not want to play as a 13-team conference, assuming we could find a team that fit and that culturally fit and that competitively fit,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said at a Wednesday press conference from Army’s Michie Stadium. “And Army, you just can’t do better than having West Point and having the United States Military Academy in your conference.”
Despite sharing its conference home with Navy, the iconic Army-Navy game will remain a nonconference event to preserve its high-profile end-of-season spotlight.
Army’s existing television contract with CBS Sports, which runs through 2028, had to be considered alongside the AAC’s ESPN deal, which extends to 2031-32.
Adding additional teams is not currently in the American’s plans, noted Aresco. “For us at this point, it’s definitely the close of any expansion discussions,” he said.
The Army football program, which began competing in 1890 with a game against Navy, has historically been an independent in football, except for a stint in Conference USA from 1998-2004 which marked the beginning a years-long downturn in the team’s fortunes.
The program has since seen a resurgence under coach Jeff Monken, boasting five bowl appearances and two seasons with double-digit wins since 2016. Army is 2-5 so far in the 2023 season.
The Black Knights’ football heritage includes two national championships and three Heisman Trophy winners.