Wichita State accepted an invitation Friday to join the American Athletic Conference, ending a relationship with the Missouri Valley Conference that dated back nearly a half-century.
The presidents of the AAC’s 12 member schools voted unanimously to admit the school in all sports but football. The school, which has been a member of the MVC since 1945, does not have a football program but it is a powerhouse in men’s basketball.
It will officially join the league on July 1.
“Here we go!,” the school tweeted in announcing its decision.
The AAC currently has 12 members for football: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. Navy is a football-only school, so the Shockers would give the conference 12 members in both football and basketball.
“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,” said Mike Aresco, the conference’s commissioner.
The addition could also help both the conference and the Shockers when it comes to seeding in basketball for the NCAA Tournament. Wichita State received just a 10 seed in this year’s tournament, despite a 30-4 record — the fourth time in five years the Shockers have had at least 30 wins. They ended up losing in the second round to Kentucky, 65-62, in one of the tournament’s best games.
The AAC, meanwhile, got just two bids into the tournament. Both conference champion SMU and Cincinnati were seeded sixth in their regionals and lost in the first round.
Because it did not give the required two-year notice for leaving the MVC, Wichita State will have to forfeit its share this year’s conference revenue distribution.
“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.,” said John Bardo, the Wichita State president. “It became clear to us that the American offered the best combination of universities who share our academic and cultural values and research focus.”
Messages were left seeking comment from the Missouri Valley Conference. The school is the second to leave the MVC in the past four years. Creighton left for the Big East in 2013.
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