The American Athletic Conference presidents unanimously voted Friday to invite Wichita State into the conference, putting the final stamp on what has been in the works for months.
"The Missouri Valley Conference has undergone many changes in membership throughout our 110-year history, and the news today of Wichita State University's departure brings us to another stage in the evolution of our league". The schools that field top-level college football teams banded together to form the AAC.
Wichita State needs approval from nine of the 12 American members, including football-only Navy.
The MVC's last shift came in March of 2013, when Creighton left for the Big East. Wichita State won the Missouri Valley the last three seasons, and three of the last four, and have experienced NCAA Tournament success. Thamel reports that the league will likely play an 18-game conference schedule in basketball after the Shockers are added. "In men's basketball, the American Conference just went up a level".
Formal discussions about moving the Shockers out of the Missouri Valley Conference ahead of the 2017 season switched gears in October.
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The AAC makes a natural fit for Wichita State, as the conference now sits at 11 members - Houston, Memphis, Tulsa, Tulane, SMU, Temple, South Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Central Florida as well as football-only Navy - and the addition of the Shockers would round out the conference at 12 members, and ideal number to create conference divisions. The Shockers, who have developed a nationally ranked basketball program over the past five years, have received a bid to the NCAA tournament every year since 2012.
The Shockers become the 12th member of the AAC on the non-football side. "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".
Additionally, ESPN's Andy Katz reported the league will stick with an 18-game conference format, with each school playing home-and-home dates against seven teams, and one game a year against four other teams.
League members are: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. Because it did not give the required two-year notice for leaving the MVC, Wichita State will have to forfeit its share of this year's conference revenue distribution.
"With the addition of Wichita State, The American Conference has immediately strengthened its brand". Bardo, with a wide smile as he took the phone call, couldn't thank American commissioner Mike Aresco enough. Top MVC rival Northern Iowa spends just $2.9 million per year.
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