The American Athletic Conference unanimously voted Friday morning to add Wichita State as a league member for the 2017-18 season.
Wichita State announced it would accept the AAC’s invitation and leave the Missouri Valley Conference, where the Shockers have been members since 1945.
— Wichita State (@WichitaState) April 7, 2017
Wichita State will join the AAC in all sports except football, giving the AAC both a 12-team football and basketball league.
The AAC has 11 all-sports members (Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and Central Florida) and Navy is a football-only member. Wichita State has not had a football team since 1986.
Because of Wichita State’s basketball success, the Shockers were an attractive target for the AAC. Wichita State has been to six consecutive NCAA men’s tournaments, winning at least one game in the past five and reaching the 2013 Final Four.
“Wichita State is just a tremendous addition to our league,” UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie said. “Coach [Gregg] Marshall’s program is all about winning championships. Year in and year out, they are nationally ranked and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. I know next season, they are already being projected as a top 10 team. In men’s basketball, the American Conference just went up a level.”
Added Cincinnati basketball coach Mick Cronin: “Great for our league. I love to see a move for basketball reasons.”
Wichita State is the second high-profile school to leave the Missouri Valley Conference. Creighton left for the Big East four years ago.
To leave the Missouri Valley, there is no exit fee if a school provides 24 months of notice. If a school doesn’t provide 24 months of notice, it forfeits its NCAA men’s basketball tournament units revenue. Since 2007, Wichita State has generated 16 units for the Missouri Valley.
Sources said Wichita State will pay $2.5 million to join the AAC, but the Shockers won’t actually pay that amount, as future league revenue — expected to be $500,000 for each of the next five years — will be withheld to pay for its entrance fee.
As far as scheduling, the AAC said it would stick with an 18-game conference basketball slate, with schools playing seven home-and-home games and four one-plays.
“The addition of Wichita State is tremendous for this league,” Central Florida coach Johnny Dawkins said. “… What Gregg Marshall has done at Wichita State has been impressive and we are excited to have the Shockers join The American.”
With the addition of Wichita State, more than one-third of the AAC’s schools were previously Missouri Valley Conference members: Cincinnati (1957-69), Houston (1951-59), Memphis (1968-73) and Tulsa (1935-96).
Because of Wichita State’s departure, Missouri Valley presidents and athletic directors reportedly will meet Sunday in St. Louis to discuss how the league will replace the Shockers.
“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,” MVC commissioner Doug Elgin said in a statement. “The Valley has always been resilient and progressive in the face of these changes, and we have never been defined by a single institution. …
“We have a membership process in place and we will be very deliberate in taking appropriate steps to provide the best opportunities to grow and strengthen our league. We will not waver in our determination to put our student-athletes and teams in the best possible position to compete on the national stage.”
Wichita State needed 75 percent of votes from the AAC’s board of directors — the league’s university presidents and chancellors — to earn an invitation from the American.
ESPN’s Andy Katz contributed to this report.