WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) So long, MVC. After months of speculation surrounding Wichita State's future with the Missouri Valley Conference, this morning, the American Athletic Conference voted to accept the Shockers into its ranks.
Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel was first to report that Wichita State was unanimously voted into the AAC.
SOURCE: Wichita State has been unanimously voted into the AAC, pending final paperwork the Shockers are in.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) April 7, 2017
CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd then said the university would make the move official July 1.
Breaking: CBS Sports told American Athletic Conference votes unanimously to admit Wichita State. Officially joins July 1.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) April 7, 2017
With the move, WSU becomes the AAC's 12th basketball member. The conference, which sent two teams -- SMU and Cincinnati -- to the NCAA Tournament this year in men's basketball, presents more opportunities for the Shockers to compile RPI top 50-100 wins.
"This gives us an opportunity to regularly test ourselves against traditionally strong competition, and do so on a grander stage," said Wichita State Athletic Director Darron Boatright.
RealTimeRPI.com ranked the AAC as having the seventh highest RPI among 32 NCAA DI conferences this year. The MVC was No. 12 by RPI but had a large drop off from Illinois State and WSU.
“We are excited about the challenges in front of us that come from joining one of the nation’s finest athletic conferences," said head men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall. "We have much respect for the programs, players and coaches that comprise The American. We look forward to visiting all of these world-class cities and competing to the best of our abilities.”
Clearly, men's basketball is the driving force behind the move, but the transition to the AAC is reported to be a move for the entire athletic department. How the university and the new conference go about scheduling for Shocker baseball, volleyball, softball, etc. is yet to be seen. There is a lot in the way of logistics to figure out.
“It is an exciting time at Wichita State! The American Athletic Conference has high-caliber women's basketball teams with great players and great coaches. We are excited about this new challenge and opportunity!” said Keitha Adams, Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Wichita State University.
While the AAC is spread out across the eastern half of the U.S., there is some familiarity for WSU. AAC members Memphis, Tulsa, Cincinnati, and Houston were all once members of the MVC. Tulsa was in the Valley until 1996.
The complete list of AAC members includes Connecticut (with four men's basketball national titles since 1999), Cincinnati, Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, which is a football-only member.
There's a lot of work ahead for Wichita State in the coming months, but for many fans looking for greener pastures, the announcement couldn't have come at a better time.