After all of the recent talk and speculation, Wichita State’s move to the American Athletic Conference is now a reality. The Shockers help strengthen an already solid basketball conference and give Tulsa another regional league opponent.
Not to mention the fact that WSU is an old rival from Tulsa’s days in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“Wichita State is a tremendous addition to The American Athletic Conference,” said Tulsa head coach Frank Haith. “We have consistently been one of the top basketball leagues in the country, and adding a perennial NCAA Tournament program like Wichita State as our 12th member just reinforces our standing among the nation’s elite.
“I am excited to welcome Coach (Gregg) Marshall and Wichita State to the family. We have great respect and a long-standing rivalry with the Shockers that will continue to flourish as part of The American.”
The aforementioned Marshall has led Wichita State to 25 or more wins in eight consecutive seasons, winning the last four MVC titles and reaching the Final Four in 2013. He was named the National Coach of the Year in 2014.
“We are excited about the challenges in front of us that come from joining one of the nation’s finest athletic conferences,” said Marshall. “We have much respect for the programs, players and coaches that comprise The American. We look forward to visiting all of these world-class cities and competing to the best of our abilities.”
Tulsa’s rivalry with Wichita State dates back to the 1930–31 season. The two schools were in the Missouri Valley Conference together from 1945 to 1996 and have met 126 times on the hardwood. The Shockers lead the series 65-61.
“We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco. “This is a University with a strong athletic and academic heritage which shares our Conference’s commitment to excellence, and we look forward to having them as a member. The University has an exceptionally strong tradition of success in men’s basketball and baseball.
“The addition of Wichita State in basketball and Olympic sports extends our Conference’s national footprint, enhances our national profile, and strengthens our position as a leader in intercollegiate athletics.”
In a move primarily made to boost the AAC’s national basketball profile, the conference will now have 12 basketball schools. The Shockers do not field a football team, but will also compete in women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, baseball and volleyball.