As the American Athletic Conference looks toward the future as an 11-member league, the NCAA has granted its permission for the AAC to hold a football championship game in 2020 and 2021.
NCAA rules say that in order to host a championship game, a conference must have either a round-robin format, a round-robin divisional format, or receive special approval. With 11 members and a commitment to four non-conference games, the AAC appears to have taken the latter approach.
The Big 12 Conference famously hosts a championship game, despite lacking the 12 members necessary to establish divisional play. However, with 10 member schools, that league can simply schedule a full-round robin.
AAC commissioner Mike Aresco confirmed the news to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“It’s really a relief that this got done,” Aresco said. “The conference championship is so important to the league.”
The AAC will become an 11-member league after the University of Connecticut departs for the Big East next year. The waiver allows the AAC to stand pat, rather than rush to replace the Huskies, while still maintaining the opportunity for a title game.
“Our plan is to play with 11 teams, not to expand at this point,” Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel in August, adding that the league is still figuring out exactly what format to follow for a championship game. “Whether we’re going to use rankings or whether we’re just going to go with conference records with a tiebreaker.”