After a vote by the American Athletic Conference, the university was offered an invitation alongside five others, including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida Atlantic University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of North Texas and The University of Texas at San Antonio, with a join date to be determined, according to an Oct. 21 news release.
“We have been working diligently to position Rice as an attractive candidate when the next round of conference realignment began,” said Joe Karlgaard, Rice University's athletics director, in the news release. “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.”
Rice University and the five other members will join current members East Carolina University, the University of Memphis, the United States Naval Academy, Southern Methodist University, Temple University, Tulane University, Tulsa University, the University of South Florida and Wichita State University as a 14-team league in football, basketball and some other sports, according to the news release. The move will reunite Rice with former rivals SMU and Tulane as well as with former Conference USA members East Carolina, Memphis and Tulsa.
The university was one of eight original schools that joined together in 1915 to form the Southwest Conference and was one of four founding members remaining in the league until its end in 1996, according to the news release. Rice then became a member of the Western Athletic Conference from 1996 to 2005, when the Owls moved to Conference USA.