IRVING, Texas – The American Athletic Conference Board of Directors has announced that the contract of Commissioner Mike Aresco has been extended by three years through June of 2025.
Aresco, the only commissioner that The American has had since its formation in 2013, was recognized by the Board of Directors for his outstanding work and strategic vision in strengthening The American’s brand and positioning the league among the elite conferences in college athletics while successfully guiding The American through the global pandemic and navigating the challenges presented by recent changes in NCAA governance and conference alignment. Aresco initially received a contract extension in 2017, which was effective through June of 2022, while the extension announced today adds an additional three years to his term.
“Mike Aresco is an excellent leader and a tireless advocate on behalf of the American Athletic Conference and our 12 member institutions,” said Michael Fitts, President of Tulane University and Chair of The American’s Board of Directors. “Mike’s acumen and integrity have guided us to sustained success both on the fields of competition and in the strategic administration of a major Division I conference. We are pleased that he will be continuing with us in this critical time in college athletics.”
“The leadership of Mike Aresco has been crucial in the development of the American Athletic Conference and its ability to credibly claim the right to be added to those conferences listed at the top of intercollegiate athletics,” said R. Gerald Turner, president of Southern Methodist University, vice chair of The American’s Board of Directors and member of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers. “During this time of major shifts in the composition of conferences and their relationships to each other, it is crucially important to have Mike’s expertise, experience, and national reputation to work with the University members of the American as we help to guide the ongoing transformation of intercollegiate athletics.”
“At a time of unparalleled change in college athletics, Mike has been innovative, aggressive and highly effective in separating the AAC from the Group of Five and placing us on equal footing with the Autonomy Five conferences,” said M. David Rudd, President of the University of Memphis and immediate past chair of The American’s Board of Directors. “Mike has been an exceptional leader at a critical time in our history and we’re thrilled to have him at the helm to navigate the landscape that will continue change.”
“The growth of the American Athletic Conference under Mike Aresco’s leadership has been remarkable,” said Michael Kelly, Vice President of Athletics at the University of South Florida and chair of The American’s Athletic Directors Committee. “I speak on behalf all of our athletic directors when I express my appreciation for his stewardship and relentless pursuit of excellence for the conference. This contract extension is well-deserved and will allow us to continue on our positive trajectory.”
“I appreciate this expression of confidence and support from the Board of Directors,” said Aresco. “I believe strongly in the long-term future of the conference. I am honored to continue to serve our outstanding institutions and their dedicated student-athletes and look forward to working with our presidents and athletic directors as we redouble our efforts to become an autonomy conference and take the American Athletic Conference into its second dynamic decade.”
Aresco secured The American’s prominent place in intercollegiate athletics by brokering a landmark 12-year media rights partnership with ESPN in 2019, which provides unprecedented revenue to member institutions while enhancing the conference’s exposure on the premier platforms in sports media.
More recently, Aresco has guided The American through a sensible return to competition from the global pandemic through the establishment of the conference’s Medical Advisory Group and the implementation of policies that prioritized the health and safety of student-athletes. He additionally created the conference’s Racial Equality Action Group, which has been at the forefront on issues of racial justice and equality.
Aresco has additionally overseen the relocation of The American’s headquarters to Irving, Texas, where the conference serves its membership from a state-of-the-art office and production studio.
The American Athletic Conference has produced four NCAA championship teams in addition to three New Year’s Six bowl champions, two NCAA Men’s Final Four participants, six Women’s Final Four teams, an NIT champion, 13 NCAA individual championships, and a Rhodes Scholar, since the 2012-13 academic year. The conference has had three top-10 finishers for the Heisman Trophy, two winners of the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy as the nation’s top defensive player, and a winner of the Campbell Trophy as college football’s top scholar-athlete.
The American was named in 2016 as a finalist for the Sports Business Journal Sports League of the Year award, the only entity from college athletics to be so honored. The formation of the conference was named by Sports Illustrated in 2018 as one of the 10 best decisions of college football’s last 10 years. The American finished the 2019 football season with four top-25 teams; among the 10 FBS conferences, only the SEC and Big Ten had more ranked teams in the final polls.
COURTESY AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE COMMUNICATIONS