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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rice Accepts Invitation to Join the American Athletic Conference

Posted: October 21, 2021 -- 10:53 a.m. CT

Rice University has accepted an invitation to join the American Athletic Conference (The American), a historic new direction for the school's athletic department.

The invitation was extended after a vote of The American's presidents on Thursday.

"We have been working diligently to position Rice as an attractive candidate when the next round of conference realignment began," Rice Director of Athletics, Recreation and Lifetime Fitness Joe Karlgaard said. "Today's invitation to join the American Athletic Conference confirms our approach and aligns with our aspirations to offer an unparalleled experience for our students. The commitment to athletics by our university administration has been crucial to our efforts to move forward, and we're very grateful for their close partnership. We have strong alignment as we embark on the next chapter in the history of Rice Athletics."

"We're thrilled to be joining the American Athletic Conference, and I am especially grateful to Joe Karlgaard for his steadfast leadership in positioning us for and seizing this opportunity," Rice President David Leebron stated. "We appreciate the strong support from Commissioner (Michael) Aresco and the university presidents. We are excited to be rejoining schools like SMU, Tulane and Tulsa in an athletics conference, to play Navy on a more regular basis and to have the opportunity to participate in athletics with all the other members of The American. Building on our strength in recent years, including many conference championships, membership in the The American will enable us to take the next steps in achieving our high aspirations for Rice Athletics."

Rice will join Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, UAB and UTSA in moving to the conference from Conference USA to compete with current members East Carolina, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, USF and Wichita State as a 14-team league in football, basketball and some other sports. The move will reunite Rice with former longtime rivals such as SMU and Tulane as well as with former C-USA members East Carolina, Memphis and Tulsa.

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