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. Accuser dismisses Dana Altman from lawsuit stemming from Oregon sexual assault case

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    Dana Altman AP

    The lawsuit stemmed from the incident in the spring of 2014.

  2. Former Weber State, D-League assistant Phil Beckner joins Nebraska coaching staff

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics

    Praised for his ability as both a coach and recruiter, Beckner also helped develop Damian Lillard into a lottery pick.

  3. Three-star power forward trims list to five

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    Childs played well with the Utah Prospects in Las Vegas during the final evaluation period.

  4. Five-star shooting guard focusing on ten schools

    Aug 1, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Indiana, Kentucky and St. John’s are among the ten, as many expected.

  5. Semifinal matchups for Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic announced

    Aug 1, 2015, 5:27 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    SMU will be the headliner for this event, with the semifinals scheduled for December 22 and the third place and title games the following night.

  6. Wichita State lands transfer guard from Texas A&M

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Former Texas A&M guard Peyton Allen is now a Shocker.

  7. Iowa sophomore forward shows improvement in summer league

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com) (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com)

    Iowa is hoping for improvement from a sophomore forward who showed promise this summer.

  8. adidas Nations releases list of college counselors

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    There will be 39 college counselors playing at adidas Nations this weekend.

  9. Isaac Humphries is Kentucky’s insurance policy inside, but should that be concerning?

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:52 AM EDT

    FIBA FIBA

    Is this an addition for depth, or should Kentucky be concerned about another center?

  10. Source: Isaac Humphries expected to commit to Kentucky, enroll in 2015

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:44 AM EDT

    (Francois Nel/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kentucky continues to add international pieces to its latest recruiting class.

  11. Summer mixtape of five-star guard Markelle Fultz (VIDEO)

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    markelle fultz

    Markelle Fultz was one of the best players during the July live evaluation period.

  12. Five-star Class of 2016 guard Frank Jackson cancels visit and sets official to Duke

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Duke gets a huge official visit in late August from a five-star guard.

  13. UCLA gets commitment from Class of 2019 guard and brother of five-star commitment

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    LaMelo Ball, a 13-year-old guard, committed to UCLA like his two older brothers.

  14. Michigan State guard returns from multiple foot injuries

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    Maryland v Michigan State Getty Images

    Michigan State sophomore guard Javon Bess will try to stay healthy and in the rotation next season.

  15. Richmond lands its second 2016 commitment of the week

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Chris Mooney - UR AP

    Both are perimeter players, giving the Spiders additional depth moving forward.

  16. Four-star combo guard trims list to five schools

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals Kelly Kline/Under Armour/Rivals

    McLaughlin de-committed from Washington in mid-May, but the Huskies remain in the mix.

  17. Appeals court grants stay of injunction in O’Bannon lawsuit

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    ed o'bannon Getty Images

    The injunction would have allowed current and future players to be compensated for the uses of their names, images and likenesses.

  18. Kentucky announces plans for alumni game against former North Carolina players

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT

    150731-UK-UNC Getty Images

    The two programs are ranked first and third, respectively, on the NCAA all-time wins list.

  19. Shooting guard Maverick Rowan’s junior season highlight video

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:07 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Louisville, NC State, St. John’s and West Virginia remain in the running for his pledge.