SAN ANTONIO — UTSA is continuing its ascent through the collegiate-conference ranks. On Thursday school officials announced they would be joining the American Athletic Conference, along with five other programs.
The AAC also welcomed the Roadrunners to the conference on Twitter.
The AAC's board of directors, in tandem with the commissioner, approved UTSA's membership along with Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and UAB, UTSA said.
"This is a bold, bold opportunity for us," UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said at a Thursday-afternoon news conference. "And it makes sense for us. We're joining a premiere conference. From a marketing perspective, it's going to be wonderful for our institution and athletics programs, and there's obviously a wonderful financial benefit that will come."
The school said UTSA will get more national media exposure, brand recognition and more games against other Texas teams. Speaking alongside Eighmy on Thursday, Athletic Director Lisa Campos said the move to join the AAC was born out of mutual desire.
"There was a shifting landscape in the industry," she said. "The American (Athletic Conference) saw an opportunity and we saw an opportunity. And we were ready and positioned to grab that opportunity."
Eighmy noted the jump in conferences continues UTSA's steady ascension in a relatively short span of time, having established a D1 program in 1981 and an "FBS-quality" football team barely a decade ago.
The university president was broad when answering questions about how joining the AAC would affect the athletic department's financial parameters.
“We’re going to be careful and cautious – but bold – going forward in growing our athletics budget,” he said. “Our support from our philanthropic community is going to be very important."
On Sunday, the Roadrunners broke school history and ranked AP's Poll Top 25 Poll after demolishing Rice, who was also accepted into the AAC, 45-0.
In addition to ranking in the AP's Top 25, the Roadrunners also received 124 votes to crack the AP Top 25 for the first time, the school said. This makes the fourth consecutive week and fifth time in history that the school has received votes for the poll, the school said.
UTSA has been a member of its current conference, Conference USA, since 2014.
The six new teams will join the following universities in the conference:
- East Carolina
- Navy (football only)
- South Florida
- Wichita State
The Roadrunners will play LA Tech this Saturday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in Louisiana.