Not Shocking: Wichita State Could Be Leaving Missouri Valley For Bigger Conference
It is becoming "increasingly apparent" that a confluence of Wichita State's recent basketball success, the "history of programs with similar profiles and the current trends of the NCAA tournament selection committee will drive the Shockers to a higher-profile conference," according to Pete Thamel of SI.com. Sources this week revealed that WSU "upgrading its league" -- likely to the AAC -- is a "distinct possibility in the near future." This could happen as "soon as the next few months or may take a year or two." Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Doug Elgin said, "It wouldn’t be a genuine response if I said we weren’t concerned. We want them to stay. Losing Creighton was a blow to the league. Losing Wichita State would be the same." A source said that the AAC is "exploring ways to improve its basketball reputation." WSU has also "pondered Conference USA, and the Mountain West and MAC to a lesser extent, as options if it decides to add football." Potentially adding WSU may be "one step in the evolution of the AAC," which has "few logical options for football expansion." Thamel notes basketball is "rarely a huge driver of realignment." But in WSU's case, the "marriage appears to be mutually beneficial." Thamel notes "no one can believe" WSU landed a No. 10 seed for this year's NCAA Tournament, one of the "most controversial and indefensible" seeds of this generation. WSU's "duality as a dominant national program from outside of a power conference is becoming an increasing anomaly." WSU plays in the MVC, but has a "national brand, a consistently packed arena" and pays coach Gregg Marshall over $3M per year. Essentially, "everything about them aside from their league schedule and the respect from the NCAA selection committee is high-major" (SI.com, 3/17).
STAYING PUT FOR NOW: Indiana on Thursday fired coach Tom Crean, and Marshall, who has been tied to various vacancies in recent years, said that "neither he nor his reps have spoken to any school about an opening." However, he said that one day he will "probably leave Wichita." He is just "not sure when." Marshall: "Ultimately, maybe I'll take one. But right now, we're very, very happy where we are" (ESPN.com, 3/16).