Wichita State could make AAC move ahead of 2017 season


Brian Hayes

Wichita State cheer and dance team sing the alma mater in front of the fan section in Bankers Life Fieldhouse after the Shockers lost to Kentucky 65 – 62. (Mar. 19, 2017)

Wichita State is in talks to join the American Athletic Conference, sources have told both ESPN and now Sports Illustrated. Sources told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated that the Shockers could potentially make the AAC move ahead of the 2017-18 basketball season.

Thamel reports that conversations have advanced to where a timeline for potential membership to emerge. A decision could be made in as few as two weeks, he reported.

Wichita State has played in the Missouri Valley Conference since 1945.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN earlier this month that Wichita State would accept an invitation to move to the American Athletic Conference from the Missouri Valley if should the AAC offer one.

Should the Shockers join the AAC, it would join as the conference’s only non-football member, and would be the 12th basketball member of the AAC. Navy is a football-only member of the conference.

Sources report the discussion to add Wichita State has reached the presidential level, where a 75 percent vote (nine AAC presidents) is necessary add the Shockers.

Wichita State has won the Missouri Valley’s regular-season championship for the last four seasons.

“It wouldn’t be a genuine response if I said we weren’t concerned,” MVC commissioner Doug Elgin told Sports Illustrated earlier this month.

An anonymous source told Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle the addition of Wichita State to the AAC was “almost inevitable.”

The AAC’s 12 members include: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, South Florida, Tulsa, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and football-only Navy.

Wichita State played in their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament this year. They have won at least one NCAA Tournament game for five years, and played in the 2013 Final Four.

This year, Wichita State represented the Missouri Valley as the conference’s only NCAA Tournament bid. Cincinnati and Southern Methodist each advanced to the tournament out of the AAC. Connecticut won the NCAA Championship in 2014 and previously in 2011 — a total of four since 1999. Cincinnati owns two NCAA Tournament championships.

Sources from the AAC have reportedly noted the interest in expanding to adding a 12th member to strengthen their basketball conference. They have not ruled out the possibility of expanding the conference to 14 teams.