Officials at American Athletic Conference schools have discussed expansion, specifically the possibility of adding Wichita State, according to a report on Thursday from TMG College Sports’ Mark Blaudschun.
The goal, Blaudschun reports, is to raise the conference’s basketball profile, which has been a consistent concern since the Big East morphed into the AAC in 2013.
Though expansion discussions are focused on the Shockers, who play in the Missouri Valley Conference, Dayton and VCU have also been floated as possibilities.
The AAC is currently at 12 football members and 11 members for basketball. Wichita State could potentially come aboard full-time, if it decides to bring back football, an idea the university has been toying with. If that doesn’t happen, though, the Shockers could join as non-football members. Dayton and VCU would be non-football as well, since they do not sponsor FBS football programs.
It’s no secret that the American Athletic Conference is looking to boost its profile. UConn, its most valuable basketball brand, has totally-not-but-also-we-know-they-totally-have-been flirting with the Big East about possibly moving its non-football programs there. Whether the Huskies leave or not, the league is desperate for money, and could use an additional basketball power to increase revenue. That could come both in the form of a more lucrative TV contract and in more NCAA Tournament shares over time.
If you want an idea of how desperate the AAC is, just look at this not-at-all-thirsty promo the league has been airing this year:
Or the banner on their YouTube page:
It’s doubtful that Wichita State, Dayton, or VCU could elevate the AAC to the status of a power conference, but it would certainly help schools earn a few extra bucks.
To the surprise of no one, sources both from the AAC and potential expansion candidates refused to comment on the record.