The American Athletic Conference approved an eight-game conference schedule with the ability to play up to four nonconference games, a source told ESPN.com.
Commissioner Mike Aresco said in an interview Tuesday that the league’s athletic directors were in favor of that scheduling model. It was approved Wednesday morning, and an official announcement is expected later Wednesday.
Aresco told ESPN on Tuesday, “We’ve been leaning toward that for a while. I didn’t want to put a limit on the number of nonconference games because that would indicate we’re not trying to play our schedule.”
Aresco also said the league looked at playing eight or 10 conference games, but staying with eight league games was always the preference.
“We don’t really want to play 10 because that would really limit the nonconference games,” Aresco said. “The nonconference games mean something to us. We felt we could potentially play some Power 5 teams, we could play some Group of 5 teams that we want to test ourselves against, and we felt we could do it safely.”
Several American teams have either lost Power 5 nonconference games or are awaiting word on the status of others. The American wanted to wait on making a decision on its schedule until after the Power 5 conferences. The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC voted on 10-game conference schedules. The
ACC will play a 10-game conference schedule with one nonconference game, while the Big 12 will play a nine-game conference schedule with one nonconference game.
The Sun Belt also announced an eight-game league schedule plus up to four nonconference games on Tuesday.
As American teams look to play their nonconference schedules, Aresco said there would be no travel restrictions in place. The ACC and Big 12 are requiring nonconference games to take place in their home states. Like those two conferences, the American will require nonconference opponents to meet the same testing and safety protocols that they have put in place.
“We charter, and we think it’s a fair way to do things as long as the protocols are in place,” Aresco said. “We’ve urged our ADs to reach out to nonconference opponents to make sure the protocols are in place, and there will be real integrity there.”
Aresco said there also is flexibility in when the conference championship game is played, but that would all depend on where Navy fits into the picture, as the Army-Navy game remains scheduled for Dec. 12.