The countdown starts after “One Shining Moment” plays on CBS to wrap up the NCAA Tournament on Monday.
The next big moment in college athletics is Wichita State’s potential move to the American Athletic Conference.
Sources around college athletics theorize that the conclusion of the tournament clears the way for that announcement. While these sources aren’t briefed specifically on the details, they expect official word — after months of anonymous sources and no comments — by the middle of the upcoming week. A few can see a timeline that extends a few days, perhaps as long as another week, before the move is made official.
“If it’s done, you can’t hold these things,” one source in college athletics administration said.
“It appears there’s no more point to delaying,” another source in college athletics administration said. “That’s the time to do it.”
A likely scenario outlined is that at least some American Athletic Conference athletic directors are meeting in Phoenix at the Final Four this week, perhaps to make a final recommendation to university presidents to set up a vote by conference call and an invitation. While it’s not typical for all university presidents to attend the Final Four, some that are big on athletics may also attend for formal or informal discussions regarding Wichita State.
Once the Final Four is over, the announcement can take the spotlight and all parties can get busy with the heavy lifting of scheduling and planning. Wichita State would give the AAC a 12th basketball school. The Shockers would join the AAC in all sports. The addition of football is not a consideration.
AAC members are Houston, Memphis, Tulsa, Tulane, SMU, Temple, South Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Central Florida and football-only Navy.
Wichita State needs nine votes from the 12 AAC members to receive an invitation. There is no exit fee from the Missouri Valley Conference, WSU’s home since 1945. WSU president John Bardo must provide written notice, by registered mail, to the top conference officials.
As is typical with this issue, sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the subject.
A news conference and announcement at Wichita State would likely feature a visit from AAC commissioner Mike Aresco. Connecticut’s loss in Friday’s NCAA women’s national semifinal also may clear room so that WSU’s introduction won’t conflict with a national title celebration in Storrs.
Also in Phoenix — many media members with questions about the matter. The longer this story goes on, the harder it is to control leaks. The move is widely regarded as a done deal by media outlets, so the final details of when, where and an entrance fee are the scraps of information fought over.
Also in Phoenix — Missouri Valley Conference officials forced to endure questions about their conference’s future.
All parties have an interest in a timely resolution if, as reported, Wichita State will make the move for the 2017-18 school year. Volleyball schedules for both conferences are done. The MVC is already considering its future and must continue its work to replace Wichita State. There will be urgency for the MVC to add at least one member to maintain an 18-game conference schedule at a minimum.
The American, one source said, likely has computer models for 12-team basketball and volleyball schedules, as well as other sports, prepared.
“They’ve probably been working on that,” the source said.
Wichita State started on this life-changing path in 2015 when it announced its plans to evaluate its place in college athletics. Two years later, the university may be within a few days of that change becoming a reality.
Around the AAC in men’s basketball
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RPI rank: 58
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RPI rank: 316
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