AAC releases statement, concludes it will ‘not look westward’ amid conference realignment 

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco released a statement Friday in response to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s addition of Southern Methodist University. 

After nearly three-plus weeks of discussions and possibilities, SMU officially announced its plan to join the ACC beginning July 1, 2024, on Friday. It will join the ACC along with former Pac-12 Conference members Cal and Stanford. 

“We have known that today’s move was a possibility, which has allowed us time to investigate a number of options, including consideration of the larger group of institutions in the Pacific time zone,” Aresco stated in a release. “We have concluded, however, that the best way to proceed for our outstanding student-athletes is to not look westward.” 

Given the AAC will no longer pursue westward expansion, it will instead “focus any expansion efforts on schools that allow for sensible and sustainable competition and student-athlete well-being within our strong geographic footprint,” according to a release. 

“SMU has shared our pursuit of competition at the highest level throughout its time in the American Athletic Conference,” Aresco stated in a release. “President Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Rick Hart have been among our strongest advocates and leaders both internally and externally. We wish them well.”