American Athletic Conference unanimously approves Wichita State to join league

Wichita State will leave the Missouri Valley Conference for the American Athletic Conference.


Selena Favela

Wichita State will join the American Athletic Conference.

Wichita State will leave the Missouri Valley Conference — its home since 1945 — to join the American Athletic Conference.

“We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” AAC conference commissioner Mike Aresco said. “This is a university with a strong athletic and academic heritage which shares our conference’s commitment to excellence, and we look forward to having them as a member.

“The addition of Wichita State in basketball and Olympic sports extends our conference’s national footprint, enhances our national profile and strengthens our position as a leader in intercollegiate athletics.”

Wichita State President John Bardo and Athletic Director Darron Boatright will make an official statement at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

AAC presidents voted on Wichita State early Friday morning, 12 voted unanimously to approve the Shockers. A 75 percent vote was needed. The new affiliation begins July 1, 2017.

“This could not be better for us,” Wichita State President John Bardo said receiving the call. “We’re so excited.

“This is an event of great importance in defining the future of Wichita State.”

Wichita State, beside the help of College Sports Solution, a national consulting firm, examined numerous options for a new conference affiliation. The search began 15 month ago.

“Two years ago we set out on a fact-finding process to determine the best way athletics could help position the university for enrollment growth and enhance WSU’s reputation as an academic and research institution,” Bardo said. “It became clear to us that The American offered the best combination of universities that share our academic and cultural values and research focus.”

Lou Heldman, Wichita State vice president of strategic communications, said the AAC was Wichita State’s first choice when evaluating conference options.

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.

The AAC’s 11 basketball members are: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa.

The remaining nine Missouri Valley presidents will meet Sunday to discuss conference realignment.