Skip to content

It hasn’t been easy being the American Athletic Conference’s commissioner

Aug 30, 2013, 9:36 AM EDT

In Mike Aresco’s tenure as a conference commissioner, turmoil has been the norm.

The former CBS executive vice president took over as commissioner of the Big East last August, just in time to deal with the fallout of Syracuse and Pitt leaving for the ACC, Notre Dame’s decision to follow them south, Rutgers and Louisville beating UConn and Cincinnati out the door, and the Catholic 7 splitting from the conference the form their own brand-new, basketball-centric league.

Which, of course, they wanted to call the Big East.

So in the midst of watching teams sprint from the conference like freshmen from a house party when the cops show up, Aresco not only had to work out a television rights deal while figuring out how to keep the league from being a season-long punchline, he literally had to go back to square one: he needed a name.

He had been a conference commissioner for less than eight months at that point. Talk about being thrown into the fire.

“We didn’t want to be called the No Name Conference. We didn’t want to be called The Conference To Be Named Later,” Aresco told NBCSports.com. “We knew that to remain viable, we needed the name fairly soon.”

Once the name — American Athletic Conference — was officially decided upon, the next step was developing a logo, a trademarked patch that would start to build the brand of a league that completely redefining itself; the new Big East may have taken the name and Madison Square Garden, but the AAC is actually the old Big East.

That process was a success, as the American’s logo seems to be the one thing that everyone on twitter didn’t hate, but it was also a bit more complicated.

source:  Aresco reached out to a former CBS colleague named Leslie Ann Wade who had assembled a group that had been doing work on branding corporate logos. That group had contributed to the conference as a consultant on the PR front, so Aresco asked them to develop something, and they came up with the A with a star in the middle of it.

The decision-makers in the AAC offices loved it, but that was only the first step. They had to see what league members thought of it without allowing the logo to leak.

“We had to protect it,” Aresco said. “We couldn’t let anyone see it because we had to trademark it.”

That created a problem, because Aresco wanted to make sure that his conference member’s athletes and administrators all were fans of the logo he had developed. “We’ve got to make sure we have buy-in,” he said.

So what the AAC did was fly around the country to each of the member institutions, inviting a sampling of everyone involved with the school’s athletic department — presidents, ADs, coaches, athletes from revenue sports, athletes from Olympic sports — to get their feedback. The support was overwhelming.

Now that Aresco had a logo, he could actually get to work on turning the league into the powerhouse he believes it can be. Things like ensuring that all of the league’s basketball games will be aired on a national platform, whether it be ESPN, ESPN3 or CBS Sports Network. Or taking the time to talk to reporters to push support for his conference.

That may not be the most glorious part of his job, but it’s certainly better than trying to figure out who is trying to jettison themselves from the conference.

“If you ask me how it’s going compared to eight or nine months ago, it’s going extremely well,” he said. “We’re rejuvenated. We’re optimistic.”

“It’s been tough. We went through a period of real instability where we weren’t sure what we would have. We weren’t sure that we’d be here.”

Thursday marked the official beginning of the AAC as a conference, as three league members began their football seasons on opening night.

As it turns out, that’s anything but a chance for Aresco to slow down.

Two of the three AAC teams in action lost last night, with UConn losing to Towson at home (by 15!) and Rutgers dropping a road date with Fresno State in overtime.

Such is life when you’re trying to kickstart a rebranded league.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Louisiana Tech’s Michael White prime candidate for Tennessee vacancy

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:58 AM EDT

    Michael White AP

    According to a report, Louisiana Tech’s Michael White is the focus of Tennessee’s search for a new head coach.

  2. Report: Former Marshall guard Kareem Canty transferring to Auburn

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:03 PM EDT

    Kareem Canty AP

    Just over a week after his appeal to be released from his scholarship at Marshall was granted, Kareem Canty’s decided to transfer to Auburn.

  3. Kentucky fan follows through on promise to get tattoo honoring Willie Cauley-Stein

    Apr 19, 2014, 9:17 PM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    A Kentucky fan promised to get a tattoo of Willie Cauley-Stein if the 7-footer returned to Lexington for his junior season. Saturday, Michael Gray followed through.

  4. 2014 shooting guard Patrick McCaw commits to UNLV

    Apr 19, 2014, 7:36 PM EDT

    Dave Rice AP

    UNLV has added another player to its 2014 recruiting class, as shooting guard Patrick McCaw verbally committed to the Mountain West program.

  5. Arizona State lands former UNLV forward Savon Goodman

    Apr 19, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    Savon Goodman, Brandon Spearman AP

    Arizona State has made another addition to its roster, landing a commitment from former UNLV forward Savon Goodman.

  6. USF forward Zach LeDay announces decision to transfer

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Zach Leday, Shaquille Thomas AP

    Forward Zach LeDay has decided to leave the USF program after spending two seasons in Tampa.

  7. Florida A&M fires head coach Clemon Johnson after three seasons

    Apr 19, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida A&M v Florida Gulf Coast Getty Images

    New Florida A&M AD Kellen Winslow Sr. has already decided that the basketball program needs a new leader, as head coach Clemon Johnson was relieved of his duties Friday.

  8. Will Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally suit up for Texas A&M?

    Apr 19, 2014, 4:25 PM EDT

    CBE Hall Of Fame Classic Getty Images

    Will highly-touted Colombian center Tonny Trocha-Morelos finally be joining the Texas A&M program?

  9. Michigan lands 2014 commitment from guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman

    Apr 19, 2014, 2:39 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Getty Images

    Michigan had some open scholarships following the 2014 NBA Draft departures of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III and they filled one of those on Saturday with a commitment from senior guard Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

  10. Gonzaga will have a tough non-conference schedule in 2014-15

    Apr 19, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT

    Wichita State v Gonzaga Getty Images

    Gonzaga will have a very tough non-conference slate during the 2014-15 season.

  11. Adam Silver says raising NBA’s age limit a top priority

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Two-and-through sounds more and more likely to happen.

  12. Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill, Satchel Pierce follow Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Buzz Williams AP

    Former Marquette commits Ahmed Hill and Satchel Pierce are following former Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams to Virginia Tech as the duo committed to the Hokies on Saturday morning.

  13. POSTERIZED: SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay flushes a ridiculous alley-oop during Jordan Brand Classic (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2014, 10:03 AM EDT

    emmanuel-mudiay

    SMU commit Emmanuel Mudiay put down the best dunk at the Jordan Brand Classic.

  14. Northern Illinois extends contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through 2017-18

    Apr 18, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Mark Montgomery Mark Montgomery

    Northern Illinois extended the contract of head coach Mark Montgomery through the 2017-18 season.

  15. Chicago duo Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander earn MVP honors as East beats West in Jordan Brand Classic

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    Beach Ball Classic Basketball AP

    Chicago natives Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander earned MVP honors as the East beat the West in the Jordan Brand Classic.

  16. Report: Houston imposes transfer restrictions on Danuel House, TaShawn Thomas

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:40 PM EDT

    TaShawn Thomas AP

    Houston is allowing Danuel House and TaShawn Thomas to transfer, but only to certain programs.

  17. Indiana grabs commitment from prep school center (VIDEO)

    Apr 18, 2014, 7:31 PM EDT

    North Dakota State v Indiana Getty Images

    Indiana grabbed a commitment from a 2014 center on Friday night.

  18. Miami forward James Kelly intends to transfer

    Apr 18, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Jim Larranaga AP

    Miami forward James Kelly is moving on.

  19. Butler loses guard Elijah Brown to transfer and adds Indiana transfer Austin Etherington

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    Brandon Miller AP

    It was a busy day for the Butler Bulldogs on Friday as freshman guard Elijah Brown intends to transfer while former Indiana wing Austin Etherington will transfer to the Big East program.

  20. Ole Miss signs Tennessee State transfer M.J. Rhett

    Apr 18, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Ole Miss picked up a big graduate transfer on Friday when former Tennessee State forward M.J. Rhett signed with the Rebels.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'