UConn is expected to leave the American Athletic Conference and return to the Big East for basketball and other sports in 2020, sources told ESPN.
Nothing is official at this point, but an announcement could come as early as next week, sources said. The UConn board of trustees has not yet voted on the move, but approval is expected.
The biggest remaining question surrounds what happens with UConn’s football team. The Big East does not have football, and it’s unlikely UConn would remain in the American with just football, sources told ESPN. Sources said the football program is expected to play in the American in 2019 but could go independent after that or join another conference.
Conference bylaws require UConn to pay a $10 million withdrawal fee and give 27 months’ notice before leaving, but the Huskies are expected to join the Big East in 2020.
In a statement Saturday, the school said “our responsibility to always be mindful of what is in the best interest of our student athletes, our fans and our future. With that being said, we have been and remain proud members of the American Athletic Conference.”
UConn was an original member of the Big East, beginning in 1979, but went to the American during realignment in 2013. The Big East retained original members Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall and St. John’s, as well as longtime member Villanova. DePaul and Marquette also remained in the Big East, and the league added Butler, Creighton and Xavier.
A possibility for the American in replacing UConn would be to add Army or Air Force as a football-only school, like it currently has with Navy, and then add a successful basketball program.
UConn became one of the best basketball programs in the country during its time in the Big East. The men’s program has won four national championships since 1999, the last one coming in 2014 — in its first season in the American.
The Huskies women’s basketball team has been virtually unchallenged in the American, going 102-0 in the regular season and 18-0 in the league tournament in six years. During that stretch, the Huskies have won three NCAA titles (2014, ’15, ’16) and they went to the Women’s Final Four the other three years.
UConn’s pending move was first reported by the Digital Sports Desk.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.