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With Big 12 expansion under serious discussion, Wichita State might rise in the ranks of attractive options

Wichita State joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1945. President John Bardo wants to know if a better conference home exists for his peaking athletic program.
Wichita State joined the Missouri Valley Conference in 1945. President John Bardo wants to know if a better conference home exists for his peaking athletic program. The Wichita Eagle

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com killed Wichita State dreams of the Mountain West Conference when he reported this quote from MWC commissioner Craig Thompson:

“Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said he did not have direct contact with (WSU president John) Bardo or Wichita State officials,” Dodd wrote. “He added that if Wichita State plans to park its basketball program in a new conference, “It ain't going to be us.”

Since there was never evidence the MWC was open to adding a non-football school, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. While 11 is an awkward number for basketball scheduling, there is little reason for schools such as San Diego State or Nevada to consider Wichita State as an addition over a better geographic fit that also plays football.

In December, Bardo talked about his plans to look at other conferences.

If it will take one more, at least, big shakeup for WSU to improve its conference standing, perhaps that shakeup is starting. The Big 12 is considering expansion and that move could take teams from the American Athletic Conference.

The loss, for example, of Memphis and Cincinnati would siginificantly diminish the AAC. Would it open conference members to Wichita State, with or without football?

Would that be the point where the AAC wants to add attractive assets, with or without football? At that point, the AAC will most likely look at Conference USA members, which is the conference schools such as Houston, Tulsa and SMU recently escaped on their way to the AAC.

Should schools with the profile of Memphis and Cincinnati depart, WSU, if invited, would also have to evaluate if the AAC is a good move. If Tulsa, Houston and SMU remain members, the AAC would make reasonable geographic sense. A diminished AAC is likely a better basketball conference than the MVC, but perhaps not dramatically. It would accomplish the goal of associating Wichita State with higher-profile schools.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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