‘There has been no invitation offered’: Wichita State awaits probable invitation from American Athletic Conference
Update: Wichita State has not received an invitation to the AAC, WSU athletic department officials confirmed late Tuesday.
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League officials of the American Athletic Conference are wasting no time in discussions about conference realignment.
Sources told Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports Network early Tuesday morning that the AAC is preparing Wichita State to join the league for the 2017-18 season.
Wichita State Athletic Director Darron Boatright told The Sunflower Tuesday night that no invitation has been extended from the AAC. Nine of 12 votes from AAC members are required for the Shockers to make a move. Until an invitation has been made, Wichita State has no role in the decisions and therefore cannot confirm the leave.
“There has been no invitation offered,” Boatright said Tuesday night. “There’s nothing the institution can do until an offer is presented.”
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 4, 2017
Wichita State officials have openly said they would accept the invitation. Should the invitation be offered and accepted, the Shockers would leave the Missouri Valley Conference, where they have been a member since 1945.
Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports said Tuesday, using anonymous sources, that the Missouri Valley Conference will hold an emergency meeting Sunday in St. Louis to discuss the Shockers’ departure. Boatright confirmed that his knowledge of the rumor, adding that neither he or Wichita State President John Bardo had received invitation to the meeting.
The AAC currently has 11 basketball schools; football-only Navy gives the league 12 members for football. Wichita State ended their football program in 1986.
Historically, when one team joins a conference, mini-conference realignments can take place. Connecticut, who is rumored to have an interest in leaving the AAC for the Big East, should be worth monitoring.
The AAC’s 11 basketball members are: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.
The AAC’s current television deal ends in 2020. Preliminary talks will happen as early as this year. The league’s current deal pays teams $1.9 million in media rights per school — nearly one-tenth of the ACC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Sec and Big 12. The addition of Wichita State — who has been to six consecutive NCAA Tournaments and won at least one tournament game in each of the last five seasons, could help sweeten the deal when the contract comes up for new negotiations.
(This story will be updated as more information becomes available).