Six schools from Conference USA, including UAB, Texas-San Antonio and Florida Atlantic, have applied for membership to the American Athletic Conference and are expected to be accepted by the end of the week, according to two people with knowledge of the process.
Rice, North Texas and Charlotte also have applied for membership, said the people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the league was not yet prepared to make its expansion plans public.
The American was in the market for new members after three of its most successful schools, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida, announced in September they would be joining the Big 12.
Those moves are expected to happen by the 2023 football season, and the American hopes to have its six new members in place when the departing schools leave.
The end result would be a 14-team conference, with four schools in Texas — the three new members and SMU.
The American targeted schools based in large media markets and fertile recruiting territory for football.
UAB has been C-USA’s most consistent winner in recent seasons, playing in three straight league title games and winning two. It has been a remarkable bounce back for a program that was terminated after the 2014 season but returned to competition in 2017.
FAU, located in Boca Raton, won Conference USA titles in 2017 and ’19 under then-coach Lane Kiffin.
North Texas, based in Denton, played for a C-USA title in 2017.
UTSA is a relatively new major college football program. The Roadrunners’ first season was 2011, but they already have played in two bowl games and are currently undefeated and ranked No. 24 in the AP poll.
Charlotte is also a newcomer to the highest tier of Division I football, having joined in 2013.
Rice, a Houston-based private school, has the longest history of major college football competition among the six schools heading to the American. The Owls were once a member of the Southwest Conference with schools such as Texas and Arkansas.
C-USA has been a frequent target when the American, formerly the Big East, has needed to reconstitute. After the latest realignment moves have been completed, 12 of the American’s 14 members will be former C-USA members.
Conference USA will be down to eight members — Old Dominion, UTEP, Southern Miss, Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Florida International and Western Kentucky.
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