After practically 20 years of soccer independence, Military will return to a convention.
As reported by a number of retailers, including ESPN, the American Athletic Convention (AAC) voted so as to add the Black Knights as a football-only member upfront of the 2024 season. This retains the entire of soccer groups within the Group of 5 convention at 14 as Military successfully replaces Southern Methodist College (SMU) subsequent yr. Together with Stanford and California (Berkeley) from the Pac-12, SMU will be a part of the Atlantic Coast Convention (ACC).
For soccer, Military has been unaffiliated with a convention for many of its existence, however the Black Knights performed in Convention USA from 1998 till 2004, when Military selected to go unbiased as soon as once more. Whereas not as highly effective of an unbiased program because the nation’s most well-known one, Notre Dame, Military does maintain a singular distinction of being a part of the one recreation on the town in late December for its annual tilt towards Navy. CBS has broadcast the Military-Navy Sport since 1996, and the competition often marks the top of the school soccer common season. Although each Military and Navy soccer will probably be within the AAC, their rivalry recreation will stay a non-conference affair.
Chris Vannini of The Athletic pointed out reasons why the Military-AAC partnership is sensible for either side:
“The AAC’s ESPN contract by way of 2031-32 supplies stability, although it’s nonetheless unclear in the meanwhile whether or not Military’s house video games will transfer to that deal or stay on CBS Sports activities Community by way of 2028, as a part of a contract that was prolonged final yr. The convention has colleges with sturdy tutorial traditions like Tulane, Rice and, in fact, Navy. The AAC additionally has a big footprint in Texas, the place all three service academies recruit closely for soccer. The 2023 Military roster consists of 27 gamers from the Lone Star State.”
Military’s transfer into the AAC might not register as a serious one on this newest wave of realignment, however it does depart one fewer area for applications that will have aspired to maneuver into larger conferences in hopes of creating the soon-to-be expanded School Soccer Playoff.
Does this imply that Military, a reasonably profitable soccer program this present day, will attempt to compete for upper-echelon recruits, convention championships and playoff positioning? That continues to be to be seen, particularly as a result of service academy gamers are required to serve not less than 5 years within the army except they’re granted particular waivers. Military does reap extra monetary advantages whereas retaining its conventional recreation with Navy.