Navy Joins AAC in Football. Press Release.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The United States Naval Academy today officially became the 12th football-playing member of the American Athletic Conference, ushering in a new era for both the Conference and the Academy.
Navy has played as an independent since the football program began in 1879 and the American Athletic Conference will be Navy’s first conference affiliation. The Academy is one of only four schools that has produced a U.S. president (Jimmy Carter) and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (Roger Staubach). Navy’s football history includes two Heisman Trophy winners – Staubach and Joe Bellino – 23 consensus All-America selections and one national championship team (in 1926).
Navy will compete in the American Athletic Conference’s West Division, along with Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa. The American’s East Division consists of UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, USF and Temple. The two division winners will meet in the first American Athletic Conference Football Championship on Dec. 5.
“I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world. As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference. We all look forward to Navy’s inaugural Conference football game against familiar foe East Carolina on Sept. 19 and we know that Navy’s players and coaches will have a great experience competing in the American Athletic Conference.”
“This is a significantly important day for the U.S. Naval Academy family,” said Vice Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy. “The American Athletic Conference provides us a unique reach and exposure to different parts of the country, as well as the athletic parity we’re looking for on the football field. I speak on behalf of the entire Academy when I say we are thrilled to be a part of this conference.”
“We are very excited about joining the American Athletic Conference and playing in the West Division,” said Navy director of athletics Chet Gladchuk. “The programs at Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa are run in a very similar manner as ours and we feel that we can be competitive in that division and compete for a championship. We not only look forward to playing the teams in the West, but the schools in the East as well. Facing UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, USF and Temple will provide great challenges to us, and it is one of the reasons we joined the conference. Independence had become outdated for the Naval Academy. Scheduling and TV contracts were being monopolized by the conferences and we felt that we had to join a conference in order to be able to maintain the stature we've enjoyed for so many years.”
“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.”