INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 19: Head coach Gregg Marshall of the Wichita State Shockers reacts in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

After rumors swirled for the past few months, it appears that Wichita State will make the jump from the Missouri Valley Conference to the American Athletic Conference.

That should mean a considerable step up in competition for the Shockers. The AAC has more traditionally good teams than the Missouri Valley (UConn and Cincinnati vs. Northern Iowa and Indiana State), and ranked it as the seventh-best conference in the country last year, while the MVC was ranked 10th.

This move makes all kinds of sense for Wichita State as it attempts to gain more respect nationwide. Despite having been a top program for years, the Shockers are overlooked by the rest of college basketball, and their soft conference schedule has led to them being criminally under-seeded—they were at top 10 team in KenPom this year but got a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Moreover, Wichita State spends like an AAC team, or even a power conference team. Backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, the team spends $6.9 million per year on basketball, according to data reported to the Department of Education. Top MVC rival Northern Iowa spends just $2.9 million per year.

The question is whether this will be worth it for the AAC. Wichita State is a good brand to have for basketball, but football and TV networks drive revenue, as the Big Ten and SEC have shown, and the Shockers don’t even have a football team. They’re also in the not-so-great TV market of Wichita, Kansas.

That has some fans of AAC schools puzzled.

It’s pretty clear that, as long as coach Gregg Marshall is around and the team is spending big bucks, Wichita State offers improved basketball competition to the AAC, but doesn’t add much financially or add anything for football.

Is that worth it? Time will tell.

About Kevin Trahan

Kevin mostly covers college football and college basketball, with an emphasis on NCAA issues and other legal issues in sports. He is also an incoming law student. He's written for SB Nation, USA Today, VICE Sports, The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.

2 thoughts on “Wichita State is reportedly joining the American Athletic Conference for 2017-18

  1. #1 Wichita has a strong basketball history/tradition. They have been great in the 60’s, 80’s, and now for the past decade. They are like VCU. A fellow midmajor who invested in their program to maintain national visibility.
    #2 Just taking RPI into consideration, adding Wichita moves AAC from 7th best to 6th best basketball conference. If UCONN, Memphis, Temple, Houston return to formal glory, they can move into power 5 territory.
    #3 You cite @NoEscalators for someone who speaks for all UCONN fans lol. He’s a famous internet troll.

  2. “That has some fans of AAC schools puzzled.” Yet you show only 3 tweets from a single crazy UCONN fan, a fan base that shouldn’t throw shade at anyone else’s program given the horrid condition of theirs under Ollie.

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