New conference brings national recognition to Green Wave athletics

David Watson, Contributing Reporter and Jonathan Harvey

The Green Wave rolled into the American Athletic Conference July 1, after spending almost 20 years in Conference USA. While the school will soon face tougher competition, it will reel in profits that come with a major conference. 

The American will receive an expected revenue of $65 million from its new multiyear wide ranging television contract with both ESPN and CBS, both of which will run to 2019-20. 

“Virtually all our games are on ESPN, and some are on CBS and CBS Sports Network,” Conference commissioner Michael Aresco said in a press conference Aug. 11 at Yulman Stadium. “This is extraordinary branding of [Tulane] and for this conference. We have two networks, ESPN and CBS, that are the gold standard in college sports television.” 

These new resources provide Tulane with opportunities for growth and national recognition starting at the beginning of the football season, as Green Wave football’s first game against Tulsa 7 p.m. Aug. 28 in Tulsa, Oklahoma will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

“This is beginning of a new era for Tulane Athletics as we move into an exciting and vibrant league which demonstrated smashing successes in its inaugural year,” Tulane Director of Athletics Rick Dickson said. “The exposure and visibility it will bring to Tulane and our programs is unprecedented.”

The new conference will likely mean higher operating costs for Tulane. The university spent $29,441,104 in the 2012-13 campaign, and the average operating cost of The American schools in 2014 was $42,369,899.80, according to The Times-Picayune.

Tulane originally decided to move into The American, then called the Big East, in November 2012 when the conference was in major flux from a giant realignment that saw powerhouses West Virginia, TCU, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Rutgers all leave. In this power shift, several basketball-only schools separated and bought the Big East name. The conference decided to change its name to the American Athletic Conference. 

Tulane will now face Connecticut, Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple and Tulsa in The American. Tulane will also face the United States Naval Academy in football next year. 

Aresco expressed his excitement about Tulane’s entrance into The American. 

“Tulane will enhance our conference’s national profile and competitive strength,” Aresco said. “We are a power conference pure and simple. Our student athletes demonstrated that power as they won national championships in men’s and women’s basketball, and a bowl game against the Big 12 champion. I have no doubt [Tulane] is going to be a great story and a great addition to this Conference.”

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