Starting next season, the American Athletic Conference will have a new member.
Following a conference call amongst current American schools’ presidents on Friday, the American voted to admit Wichita State University as a non-football member. Wichita State needed nine votes to join the American and was voted in unanimously, according to Sports illustrated’s Pete Thamel.
SOURCE: Wichita State has been unanimously voted into the AAC, pending final paperwork the Shockers are in.
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) April 7, 2017
According to previous reports from Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant, UConn was in support of adding Wichita State to the American.
The vote means Wichita State – which is located in Wichita, Kansas – will join the American in all sports except for football, which already has 12 teams due to the addition of Navy as a football-only member in 2015. The Shockers have not had a football program since 1986 and also do not have men’s or women’s soccer teams.
Prior to joining the American for the 2017-18 season, Wichita State was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and was the conference’s longest-tenured member, joining the MVC in 1945.
The addition of Wichita State is largely due to the success of their men’s basketball program, which has made the NCAA tournament six straight seasons, going 148-29 in that span and reaching the Final Four in 2013. On top of that, the Shockers have finished in the top 20 in KenPom ratings in each of those seasons.
Adding Wichita State in time for next season allows the American to take advantage of a team that is ranked No. 6 in ESPN’s “way too early” men’s basketball rankings for 2017-18. If the Shockers can put together a solid season and deep NCAA tournament run, the conference will benefit from the NCAA tournament win shares they will accrue.
These win shares are distributed evenly amongst conference members and currently valued at $268,459 per win. While not a lot, it would provide extra money the conference so desperately needs.
Aside from the Shockers’ success in men’s basketball, Wichita State is well known for its baseball and golf programs. The baseball team won the College World Series in 1989 and was a runner up in 1982, 1991 and 1993. The golf program has won 20 Missouri Valley Conference championships, including eight straight from 2008-15.
The Shockers’ women’s basketball program made three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2013-15, but has gone 23-38 since the 2015-16 season.