SOURCE: Wichita State has been unanimously voted into the AAC, pending final paperwork the Shockers are in.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) April 7, 2017
Wichita State does not sponsor football, but will join the AAC in all other sports, effective for the 2017-18 season, according to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. The Shockers have played in the Missouri Valley Conference since 1945.
AAC unanimously votes to add Wichita State for 2017-18 season, sources told @ESPN. Official announcement expected at noon ET— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) April 7, 2017
The move could end up being a good match for both sides, as the AAC looks to raise its basketball profile and the Shockers look for more respect on a national scale. Despite finishing the regular season ranked in the top 10 in KenPom, Wichita State received a 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it was forced to play Kentucky in the Second Round. After his team was eliminated, head coach Gregg Marshall expressed his frustration with the lack of respect, asking reporters:
“How many years do we have to do this to make people respect our program? I don't know. That's up to you guys.”
Moving into a conference with Cincinnati and SMU, who both made the NCAA Tournament in 2017, as well as four-time national champion Connecticut and annual contender Memphis should help Wichita State’s national perception.
As for the AAC, the league has struggled with its own reputation as it tries to compete financially with the Power 5 conferences. Born out of the old Big East, the AAC has consistently trailed the Power 5 and new Big East in terms of conference rankings, though it is still a definitive step above the MVC. Adding a consistent NCAA Tournament team like the Shockers will boost the league’s numbers, as well as give its existing contenders another strong opponent to face twice a year.
The AAC will now stand at 12 teams in both football and non-football sports, as Navy only plays football in the league and Wichita State will play everything but football. As a partial member, Navy does not receive a full cut of AAC revenue. It’s unclear what Wichita State’s agreement will be.
Now, the question becomes where the MVC will go from here. A report recently surfaced that the Valley could try and poach Valparaiso from the Horizon League.
I'm told Valpo would be first call if Wichita bolts. Football parallel. Geographic footprint. Both factors https://t.co/0s4aAZs3PP— Matt Rodewald FOX 10 (@Matt_Fox10) March 30, 2017
The Crusaders are consistent NCAA Tournament contenders and would be a quality basketball that would help soften the blow of losing the mighty Shockers.