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Monday, December 6, 2021

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    Conference realignment: After the AAC added 6 teams from Conference USA, Sun Belt expansion may be next – The Athletic

    When news broke Monday that the American was preparing to add Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA, the reaction around the rest of the Group of 5 was surprise, but also confusion. Either way, it was a bombshell.

    Those six schools officially joined the AAC on Thursday. The moves to the AAC could take effect as soon as 2023, though Texas and Oklahoma largely control what the timeline will be across conferences. The G5 reaction to the AAC is expected to be quick as well, as more realignment moves could come this week, sources told The Athletic. This time, it’s the Sun Belt that holds control over the next steps. It could potentially deliver the final blow to Conference USA, but the SBC hasn’t yet decided what it wants to do. (More on that below.)

    The American’s decision to add the six Conference USA schools comes after interest in four Mountain West schools (Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State) was largely rebuffed, though Air Force and CSU showed more interest than the other two. MWC commissioner Craig Thompson always believed it made more sense for them to stay than leave, and they did in the end, though returning to conference meetings after such an open flirtation makes things awkward for a period of time.

    After conversations with numerous officials throughout the Group of 5, here’s an update on why this happened and what could come next.

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