The dominoes of conference realignment in collegiate athletics are starting to fall again and this time the shuffle has a direct impact on the UNI Panthers.

As expected, Wichita State -- one of UNI's top rivals -- is leaving the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) this summer. The Board of Directors of the American Athletic Conference (AAC) voted unanimously to accept the Shockers as the league's newest member, Commissioner Mike Aresco announced on Friday (April 7, 2017).

Wichita State, a member of the MVC since 1945, will officially join the AAC on July 1, 2017.

“We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” Aresco said in a statement posted on the American Athletic Conference website. “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.”

Beginning July 1, 2017, the The American will consist of the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Connecticut, East Carolina University, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, the University of South Florida, Temple University, Tulane University, University of Tulsa, the U.S. Naval Academy and Wichita State University. Navy is a football-only member and Wichita State will be a basketball and Olympic sports-only member.

According to multiple media reports, officials with the Missouri Valley Conference plan to hold an emergency meeting on Sunday to address the Shockers' departure. The loss of Wichita State is a blow to the Valley, because of the school's strong athletic program and loyal fanbase.

The MVC is currently a 10-team league. In addition to Wichita State and UNI, other members are: Bradley, Drake, Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Loyola (Chicago), Missouri State and Southern Illinois. Loyola is the Valley's newest member. The Ramblers replaced Creighton in 2013, when the Bluejays moved to the Big East Conference.

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