Army has emerged as the American Athletic Conference’s top expansion target, sources said.
After a call with AAC presidents and athletic directors Friday morning, it was clear that Army was the league’s top choice to replace SMU, sources said. Commissioner Mike Aresco has begun informally exploring Army as an expansion candidate.
Aresco has engaged with Army athletic director Mike Buddie about potential membership, sources said. The addition of Army would be for football only, an arrangement similar to the one Navy has with the conference.
No decision is imminent, as both sides need to explore more details, sources said. Army would take the spot left by SMU, which agreed Friday to join the ACC in 2024, leaving the American with 13 teams. Army would come in as the 14th.
Other schools were discussed Friday, but none gained significant traction and only Army has received outreach from the AAC.
One thing that will be important to Army is keeping the Navy game on the same date at the end of the college football calendar, which would likely mean it’s a nonconference game. The Army-Navy game takes place on the weekend after the conference championship games, a window that ensures large viewership.
Army is currently an independent, which would limit the normal complications of leaving if both sides proceed with the courtship.
SMU left the AAC on Friday, joining Cal and Stanford in boosting the ACC to 18 teams, 17 of which play football. Starting next year, the Big Ten also will have 18 programs, while the SEC and Big 12 will have 16 each.