The West makes sense for Navy, as a national program and the strong military presence in the area.
The Huskies do host Navy this season at Rentschler Field and it's a game that is popular with fans in the area. It also allows for a two-division and championship game format.
Navy is a storied football program and is entering a league for the first time in football. The school has had two Heisman Trophy winners in Roger Staubach and Joe Bellino and has had 23 All-America selections. The one national championship came in the 1926 season.
Navy was 8-5 last year and beat San Diego State in the Poinsetta Bowl. The Midshipman still remain unique with their Army-Navy game scheduled after the American Athletic Conference Championship game.
Here are some quotes on Navy's entrance.
Mike Aresco, American commissioner:
“I am proud and delighted to take this opportunity to welcome the United States Naval Academy into the American Athletic Conference as a football-playing member,” said American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco. “We extend a warm welcome to Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy, athletic director Chet Gladchuk, head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, his team and all the Midshipmen and administrative personnel of the Naval Academy as well as to United States Naval and Marine Corps servicemen and women, friends and fans throughout the world. As I have said on many occasions, the Midshipmen represent the best this country has to offer. We are proud and grateful for the service they render to our country, and we are privileged to have them in our Conference. We all look forward to Navy’s inaugural Conference football game against familiar foe East Carolina on Sept. 19 and we know that Navy’s players and coaches will have a great experience competing in the American Athletic Conference.”
Ted Carter, Vice Admiral Naval Academy:
“This is a significantly important day for the U.S. Naval Academy family,” said Vice Admiral Ted Carter, Superintendent of the Naval Academy. “The American Athletic Conference provides us a unique reach and exposure to different parts of the country, as well as the athletic parity we’re looking for on the football field. I speak on behalf of the entire Academy when I say we are thrilled to be a part of this conference.”
Chet Gladchuk, director of athletics:
“We are very excited about joining the American Athletic Conference and playing in the West Division,” said Navy director of athletics Chet Gladchuk. “The programs at Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa are run in a very similar manner as ours and we feel that we can be competitive in that division and compete for a championship. We not only look forward to playing the teams in the West, but the schools in the East as well. Facing UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, USF and Temple will provide great challenges to us, and it is one of the reasons we joined the conference. Independence had become outdated for the Naval Academy. Scheduling and TV contracts were being monopolized by the conferences and we felt that we had to join a conference in order to be able to maintain the stature we've enjoyed for so many years.”
Ken Niumatalolo, Navy head coach:
“Joining the American Athletic Conference has given us another goal,” said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo. “Now, not only do we have the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy to play for, but a conference championship as well. I do know there are very good football teams in this league and it’s going to be a huge challenge for our program. Every week we will have a tough opponent to play.”