Charlotte, N.C. – (Oct. 21, 2021) – UNC Charlotte has accepted an invitation to join the American Athletic Conference (The American). The date when Charlotte will depart Conference USA (C-USA) and begin competition in The American will be determined by league officials.
“Since UNC Charlotte’s founding just 75 years ago, we have had many transformative milestones, and this is certainly one of those moments,” said Chancellor Sharon L. Gaber. “This invitation by The American not only recognizes the accomplishments of our University and athletics program to date, but it also demonstrates belief in our rising trajectory. We are a university on the move, shaping what’s next for our city, our region and beyond.”
Charlotte has enjoyed growing success both academically and athletically.
In the last year alone, the University saw record-breaking fundraising efforts and enrollment growth — welcoming nearly 30,500 students in fall 2021. Additionally, Charlotte was recognized this year by U.S. News and World Report as a national leader in innovation and social mobility, and saw its research expenditures double over the last five years.
The Charlotte 49ers also had a record-setting year in 2020-21 on the court and field and in the classroom:
- Four programs participated in NCAA postseason tournaments.
- The 49ers won league championships in men’s cross country, baseball, men’s indoor track and field, and men’s outdoor track and field.
- The 49ers posted runner-up finishes in men’s soccer, women’s cross country, women’s indoor track and field, and women’s soccer.
- The 49ers’ 3.53 average league finish was the best in C-USA in the 49ers’ 18 sports.
- Charlotte’s top 100 finish in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics’ Directors’ Cup was its best since 2007.
- 49er student-athletes led Conference USA in academic honors with 109 earning Commissioner’s Medals (3.75 GPA) and 333 being named to the Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll (3.0 GPA).
“This is a moment of celebration for Niner Nation and the culmination of years of hard, strategic work to position us for championship-level success,” Director of Athletics Mike Hill said. “As Charlotte’s hometown team, our membership in The American provides us with an incredible platform to grow our program as well as share the remarkable story of our extraordinary institution and city.”
Charlotte joins existing American Athletic Conference members Southern Methodist University, Temple University, Tulane University, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Memphis, the University of South Florida, the University of Tulsa and Wichita State University along with an in-state rival, East Carolina University. Florida Atlantic University, Rice University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of North Texas and the University of Texas at San Antonio will also move with Charlotte to The American.
Charlotte initially joined Conference USA as a charter member from 1995-2005. After an eight-year stint in the Atlantic 10 Conference, Charlotte returned to C-USA in 2013. The 49ers’ football program began competition in the league in 2015. At the Division I level, Charlotte has also been members of the Metro Conference (1991-1995) and the Sun Belt Conference (1976-1991).
“We thank the American Athletic Conference and Commissioner Mike Aresco for this recognition of what Charlotte will bring to the league. We are excited about joining this outstanding group of competitors under Mike’s leadership,” said Hill. “We are also extremely grateful to our colleagues in Conference USA for providing us with such a wonderful home over the years. I especially want to acknowledge Commissioner Judy MacLeod, who always leads with class and represents everything good about college athletics.”
About the Charlotte 49ers
The Charlotte 49ers are the NCAA Division I athletics department of UNC Charlotte. The 49ers sponsor programs in 18 sports, with nine men’s teams (baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, soccer and tennis) and nine women’s teams (basketball, cross country, golf, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball).
About UNC Charlotte
UNC Charlotte is North Carolina’s urban research university. With an enrollment of nearly 30,500 students, the University leverages its location in the state’s largest city to offer internationally competitive programs of research and creative activity, exemplary undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs, and a focused set of community engagement initiatives.
About The American
The American Athletic Conference was reconstituted in 2013 and serves its members from its headquarters in Irving, Texas. The American sponsors 22 championships, 10 for men and 12 for women, has television partnerships with ESPN, CBS Sports (for select men’s basketball games) and CBS Sports Network (for most Navy home football games), and has a marketing partnership with Learfield.