The newly named American Athletic Conference made its first significant move by awarding its inaugural women's basketball tournament to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
Conference officials were searching for a 2014 locale and settled on the home of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun. The AAC host site for its men's tournament, which will be in Memphis, is expected to be formally announced this week.
The AAC, formerly the Big East, held its women's tournament at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. And while national champion UConn and former teams like Notre Dame were a good draw, putting the first American tournament at the Mohegan Sun made for a more intimate setting. Mohegan seats 10,000, while the XL Center's capacity for basketball is 16,294. Other conference tournaments are moving into casinos as well, including the Pac-12 (MGM), WAC (Orleans) and WCC (Orleans) in Las Vegas.
Defending national champion UConn and Final Four participant Louisville will headline the first American tournament; the Cardinals leave for the ACC in 2014-15. The other members of the American for the coming season are Rutgers, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis, South Florida, Central Florida, SMU and Houston.
Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina will join the conference for the 2014-15 season after Louisville (ACC) and Rutgers (Big Ten) depart.
"We look forward to this partnership," American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. "Mohegan Sun Arena offers our student-athletes, coaches and fans the best of many things -- a world-class facility, a great destination and committed management. We feel that being at Mohegan Sun will enhance an already very successful women's tournament experience."
The tournament will be held March 7-10 with all 10 teams involved. The American, like the new Big East, will have an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
ESPNU will televise the semifinals and ESPN or ESPN2 will air the final. Early-round television network assignments are still to be determined.
Mohegan Sun will host the Hall of Fame Tipoff in November with a likely matchup of defending men's national champion Louisville against North Carolina.