The American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East, has been ravaged of its high profile teams in the last few years, having lost the membership of schools like West Virginia, Syracuse, Georgetown and Villanova. Following this upcoming season, two more big institutions, Louisville and Rutgers, will also be leaving to other conferences.
Left in this hustle and bustle are the University of Connecticut Huskies. They are one of the biggest names in recruiting, having won a NCAA tournament only two years ago. They were unable to participate in last year’s tournament due to the fact that they violated some NCAA sanctions and received a suspension. Because of that, they certainly had an off year last season in what would be considered an average Huskies season.
The suspension is now over though and they are expected to regain their normal form and be a contender for the NCAA title. Because of their high profile as an institution, there has been questions concerning whether or not UCONN is only in the AAC until they are able to find a spot in a bigger conference.
According to ESPN and UCONN’ athletic director, Warde Manuel, the answer is no.
“If my focus is always looking outside this organization and what we’re doing, we’re not going to maintain the success that we’ve had,” said Manuel.
Financially, UCONN is better off playing in a more competitive environment because big profile schools is what leads to television contracts, viewership and ticket sales. Manuel is right however, the focus has to be on UCONN’s improvement from within.
As I mentioned, they had an off year in basketball last year and the standard should not be lowered for the Huskies. They should expect the best from themselves every time they step on the court and that is what they should worry about. Manuel and the Huskies do not have much control over how the conferences move around and they should have the mindset that they are in the AAC and that is where they will be for the future.
From a basketball perspective, for a rebuilding team like UCONN, playing in the AAC is ideal. They should be the best team in the conference most years and should be able to pick up wins on a regular basis in conference play. Winning is the key to everything, winning will lead to financial prosperity no matter the conference a team is in and winning is what the Huskies need to focus on for the future.