Wichita State accepts invitation to American Athletic Conference

(Wichita State Media Relations) WICHITA, Kan. – President John Bardo announced that Wichita State University has accepted today’s invitation from Commissioner Mike Aresco to join the American Athletic Conference, known as “The American.” The new affiliation begins July 1, 2017.

“This is an event of great importance in defining the future of Wichita State,” Bardo said. “Two years ago we set out on a fact-finding process to determine the best way athletics could help position the university for enrollment growth and enhance WSU’s reputation as an academic and research institution.

“With the help of College Sports Solutions, a national consulting firm, we examined numerous options, including staying where we were.

“It became clear to us that The American offered the best combination of universities that share our academic and cultural values and research focus. The University of Tulsa, Southern Methodist University (in Dallas) and the University of Houston are located in areas of Oklahoma and Texas that make up part of the prime areas where we want to recruit students.

“In addition to those cities, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Orlando, Tampa, Memphis, Philadelphia, Storrs/Hartford, and Greenville, North Carolina, are all cities that our athletes, alumni and fans will enjoy visiting, and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to Wichita,” Bardo said.

“I will begin reaching out immediately to other presidents in The American to look for ways that we can build bridges to their academic programs and researchers, along with their athletic programs.”

“We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” conference commissioner Mike Aresco said. “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.”

WSU Athletic Director Darron Boatright said the student athletes, coaches and fans with whom he has spoken are tremendously excited about the coming move.

“This gives us an opportunity to regularly test ourselves against traditionally strong competition — and to do so on a grander stage,” Boatright said.

Bardo and Boatright both expressed appreciation to the Missouri Valley Conference and Commissioner Doug Elgin.

“Doug and my athletic director colleagues have been gracious and understanding about our departure,” Boatright said. “We wish the Missouri Valley all the best.”