Army’s football independence is coming to end after 19 years.
Multiple outlets reported that the American Athletic Conference has approved Army as the 14th member of the league as a football-only school. Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports reported that AAC presidents voted Tuesday night
Army could start conference play as early as the 2024, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported. The Black Knights replace SMU, which is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference, in the AAC and join service-academy rival Navy in the same conference.
Army is expected to have an announcement regarding the move later this afternoon. Athletic director Mike Buddie will be available for comment tomorrow.
“The overwhelming responses that I received today, it was really remarkable,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco during a conference call Wednesday. “It shows the esteem in which the Army program is held. What a great addition they will be for our conference. I think it’s going to be a tremendous experience for Army and the cadets. It will be a very competitive conference. Army will also have a path to the CFP (College Football Playoff), a chance to compete for championships. It’s going to be a great mutual beneficial relationship.”
Joining the ACC will not have any impact on the Army-Navy game and its position during the second Saturday in December. The Army-Navy game will be considered non-conference. If Army and Navy finish atop the AAC standings and qualify for the conference’s championship game, it would be played the week before Army-Navy.
Talks of Army joining the AAC began filtering in September. The delay in the announcement could partly be linked to buyouts in Army’s schedule that is set until at least 2034.
Army’s initial journey into conference football was a complete failure. The Black Knights were 13-63 overall and 9-41 in the league in seven seasons (1998-2004) as a member of Conference USA.
There’s also Army’s CBS television contract for home games to be considered. It’s likely Army’s home games would remain on CBS Sports Network as does Navy’s
Army would play eight AAC games plus Air Force and Navy every season, leaving two games to schedule.
The AAC will consist of Army, Navy, Tulane, Memphis, Tulsa, UTSA, Rice, South Florida, East Carolina, Temple, North Texas, Florida Atlantic, UAB and Charlotte for the 2024 season.
Army’s 2024 schedule has not been officially released but the Black Knights have already a game scheduled at Rice for Oct. 5, 2024. The rest of Army’s 2024 schedule (games announced by other schools) was neutral-site games against Notre Dame and Navy (Dec. 14, FedEx Field) road games at Ball State (August 31), UConn (Sept. 7), UNLV (Oct. 19), UMass (Nov. 9), home games against Syracuse (Sept. 21), Dartmouth (Sept. 28), Air Force (Nov. 2) and Wake Forest (undisclosed date).