The conference realignment winds are swirling once again, and it’s rumored that UConn will be leaving the American Athletic Conference for the Big East. It’s unclear whether or not all of their sports will be leaving, or if this will even come to pass, but when has that ever stopped us from speculating (dreaming) in the past?
What Buffalo Offers the AAC:
Buffalo fits the basic profile of most schools in the AAC, 8 of the 11 full members (assuming UConn does leave) are public schools, and the median enrollment is 29,131. Buffalo of course is a public school and weighs in with an enrollment just north of the median at 31,546. Buffalo is also a top tier academic institution, including being a member of the AAU. Only one current AAC school can say the same (Tulane), so Buffalo offers a boost in academic reputation. Additionally, Buffalo is a school in an untapped urban market, that could entice the AAC, while remaining in the northeastern footprint that UConn would leave behind.
These benefits also come without the trade-off of diminished athletic program success. Per the Massey Ratings, the average national ranking (among programs that both schools have), Buffalo’s ranking was 126, whereas UConn’s was 137.625. Just looking at the two major revenue sports (football and MBB) Buffalo ranked 83rd to UConn’s 133.5.
What the AAC Offers Buffalo:
The AAC offers a clear step up in athletic competition and prestige. In men’s basketball the AAC sent 4 teams to the big dance, compared to just 1 for the MAC. Additionally, in football the AAC has 8 bowl game tie-ins to just 6 for the MAC. This step up is ideal for Buffalo, being large enough to be worth the transition, while still being able to maintain competitiveness right away. The other major consideration for the AAC is the revenue. Per USA Today, in 2016-2017 Buffalo had $35,892,221 in revenue, $12,420,090 less than the lowest revenue generator in the AAC (East Carolina) at $48,312,311.