Wichita State has emerged as a potential basketball-only addition to the American Athletic Conference, but obstacles are still standing in the way of a potential marriage, multiple sources told FanRag Sports.
Four separate sources told FanRag Sports that the Shockers were brought up as a potential basketball-only member at the latest league meetings.
The addition of Wichita State wouldn’t guarantee much financial benefit to the other programs in the American Conference if it was added to the league, but the impact it would have from a basketball perspective would be immense.
The American Conference has struggled to gain national respect since its creation prior to the start of the 2013-14 season despite having four teams earn bids to last year’s NCAA Tournament.
“It’s going to be a matter of what the programs and administrators want to do,” one source said. “Everyone wants to benefit financially, but everyone will have that eventually if the league gets better.”
Multiple sources told FanRag Sports that the majority of the basketball coaches in the league support the addition of the Shockers because of their overall brand and recent history.
Gregg Marshall has led Wichita State to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, highlighted by a trip to the 2013 Final Four.
“Adding the Wichita State brand to a league that already has UConn, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis, Houston and SMU would make that a four-to-five bid conference,” one coach told FanRag Sports. “It’s a no-brainer for the American.”
The Shockers’ ability to grab quality wins in conference play since Creighton left to join the Big East in 2013 has dwindled. Wichita State is now forced to go through a cycle from January through March where it’s not just attempting to earn wins, but it’s also simply trying to avoid bad losses because the majority of teams in the Missouri Valley Conference have such poor numbers numerically.
The American Conference currently only has one team — Cincinnati — currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
One source said that if Wichita State were to be added to the American Conference it would likely not be for next season, but potentially for the 2018-19 campaign.
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.