Wichita State getting 'serious evaluation' to join American Athletic Conference

The American Athletic Conference is at a “serious evaluation point” in considering Wichita State for full membership, a source told CBS Sports on Friday.

Conference officials immediately downplayed that assertion. However, TMG College Sports first reported on Thursday the league was looking to “upgrade” its basketball, focusing on Wichita State. VCU and Dayton were also mentioned.

CBS Sports has since learned that while the issue hasn’t reached the presidential level in the American, there are discussions at least at the AD level.

Wichita State is being evaluated as an upgrade for the 11-team basketball league. There is no decision among concerned parties as yet. There is no timeline on the next move, never mind a date of the school’s entry.

That same source said VCU and Dayton were not in the mix.

Wichita State John Bardo has long been trying to upgrade the profile of the basketball program, in part, to keep coach Gregg Marshall.

CBS Sports reported last May that Wichita State had interest in joining the Mountain West. Part of that upgrade effort was to add football. Sources indicated that a feasibility study to re-institute football at Wichita State has lost momentum.

The Missouri Valley, Wichita State’s current conference, has been aware of the school’s intentions to go to a higher-profile conference.

Wichita State has not played major college football since 1986. 

The American has 11 basketball members because Navy plays hoops in the Patriot League. Wichita State would even out the membership at 12, same as football.

To add Wichita State, the American would at least have to notify ESPN because of implications regarding its existing TV contract. It’s not clear what – if any – financial bump the American would get by adding Wichita State. The American contract expires in 2019.

A Wichita State membership would at least be geographically advantageous to American members in the South and Southwest – SMU, Houston, Tulsa and Tulane.

American commissioner Mike Aresco would not comment on the Wichita State report. He continued to downplay an earlier report that the Big East was in talks with UConn about expansion.

“Basketball is on the cusp of becoming really good in this conference,” Aresco said. “Everybody in the league is trying hard.”

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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