AAC presidents to vote this week on adding Wichita State; could begin play in fall

American Athletic Conference presidents have scheduled a conference call later this week to vote on Wichita State’s admission into the league, sources told CBS Sports.

The Shockers beginning play for the 2017-18 season is “on the table,” according to a source. SI.com first reported earlier Wednesday the “general expectation” was that the Shockers would begin play in the fall.

CBS Sports first reported last month that Wichita State was getting “serious evaluation” from the American.

Both Wichita State and the American are seeking to upgrade their profiles. American commissioner Mike Aresco has long said he believes there is a “Power Six” conferences because of the accomplishments by his league.

Wichita State president John Bardo has been aggressively trying to position the school’s athletics and upgrade the basketball profile. Last May, Wichita State approached the Mountain West after conducting a feasibility study to add football. 

The thinking being that Wichita State has outgrown the Missouri Valley Conference, which it has been a member of since 1945. 

Missouri Valley commissioner Doug Elgin is aware of Wichita State’s intentions. There have been reports the Valley could move quickly to replace Wichita State, possibly with Valparaiso.

The Wichita State-American move would likely keep Connecticut from looking elsewhere. A report earlier this year had UConn talking to the Big East about possibly joining its former league. However, Aresco said it would be difficult for UConn to play its two major sports in different conferences.

It was made clear to CBS Sports that it would be unlikely UConn could park football in any FBS conference while playing basketball in the Big East.

Wichita State would be the American’s 12th school in basketball. The league has only 11 basketball-playing schools because Navy plays hoops in the Patriot League.

A Wichita State move would kick off a significant round of conference realignment in basketball below the Power Five level. The Horizon League is reportedly looking at schools in large cities to improve its profile. The University of Nebraska-Omaha and the University of Denver have been mentioned.

Even Gonzaga AD Mike Roth addressed the interest in his school over the weekend the Final Four.

“If someday the Big East and their financial partners come together and say, ‘You know what we’ll call it the Big East but we’ll be in all four time zones and really get after that four-letter monster [ESPN] that lives in Bristol, Connecticut,” Roth said. “In that case, can other schools in the West join Gonzaga and split into two [divisions].”

The Big East has been in its current 10-team, private school configuration since the 2013-14 season. Like Gonzaga, none of the schools play major college football.

Roth said coach Mark Few has even made a point to him the Zags could fly anywhere to play conference games because it charters.

“I tell him, ‘Mark, it has nothing to do with us flying there. It’s them flying here,’” Roth said. 

Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference.

“In January, February, we’re in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles,” Few said. “It’s not horrible.”

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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