It’s been reported the the Army Black Knights are set to join the American Athletic Conference in 2024 as a football-only member. Army will return to a conference affiliation for the first time since 2004 after participating in the Conference USA for seven years.
After so long as an Independent, the question of why Army would want to join the AAC has certainly been raised.
Why Would Army Want to Join the AAC?
There are clear hurdles in the way of joining the American Athletic Conference for Army, monetary and legal. Army is set to join the AAC as a football-only member as their other affiliated sports will continue to play in the Patriot League.
With the football-only issue clear, the other hurdles include:
- Future Opponents
- Army has up to $35 million in buyout fees across 80 scheduled games on their future schedules, per reports from Ross Dellenger
- CBS Sports Network contract
- CBS and ESPN likely have to come to a settlement on where to house Army games once the move is official
- Army-Navy Game
- The annual game is the lone game on the second weekend of December every year, but now will be a conference game
With the news of AAC officials voting Army in, the desire to move into the AAC must’ve been strong enough to make both sides willing to negotiate on those large hurdles. But why?
The question was never not why the AAC would want Army; that was always clear.
MORE: Why would the AAC want Army?
It was always around why Army would want to leave independence.
Though it hasn’t been stated, there is a bevy of reasons why Army would want conference affiliation for their football program in the future. With the recent success of programs like Liberty, BYU, and New Mexico State joining conferences, the move to the AAC solidifies Army’s future amid the conference realignment phase the sport is in.
It also helps the Black Knights with recruiting, financial gains, scheduling, and certainty during uncertain times for Independents. With BYU, Liberty, and New Mexico State gone, FBS Independents struggled for full schedules and were stuck with seemingly insurmountable odds.
Army had to take games at LSU, at UTSA, at Syracuse, and even a home game against top-notch FCS program Holy Cross in 2023.
It also allows the Army-Navy Game to be a conference game and doesn’t count toward their non-conference schedule in the future. However, it’s been reported that the Army-Navy Game hurdle that had to be cleared will allow the teams to play on the second Saturday in December and will not count toward conference standings as the AAC Championship Game will have already been played the Saturday before.
Army’s future is secure with the move to the AAC and goes a long way at helping make the case for the American Athletic Conference to become a ‘Power Five’ conference.