Even before the San Diego State Aztecs made their deep NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight, the school was the source of plenty of conference re-alignment rumors linking them to the Pac-12 Conference, especially with the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins leaving the conference to join the Big Ten in 2024. And with the team’s first-ever run to the Elite Eight, there’s a chance they’ve become an even more lucrative option.
The Aztecs have not been given any formal invitation and conference re-alignment appears to have stalled somewhat in recent years. But as San Diego State continues its historic run, head coach Brian Dutcher can’t ignore the continued conversation surrounding the program.
“Realignment is here,” Dutcher said according to ESPN. “So everybody is just waiting for the next shoe to drop. Whether that’s the Big Ten or the Pac-12 or the Big 12 or ACC. There’s going to be more realignment.”
Dutcher thinks that the departure of USC and UCLA could pave the way for the Pac-12 to ultimately invite San Diego State into the conference, pointing out that their departure from the conference opens up the Southern California market for potential media rights deals.
“I always thought the Pac-12 would not ask us in with UCLA and USC because they would put us on equal footing, and we would be too great a competitor to let in,” Dutcher said. “So now that they’re gone and Southern California has a really good team sitting in San Diego, I would think we would be desirable for the Pac-12, the Big 12, a lot of conferences.”
Regardless of what happens, athletic director David Wicker thinks that the program has made it clear that it can compete in the Power Five – especially on the basketball court.
“We’ll be ready to step into a Power 5 conference if we get that opportunity,” Wicker said. “I think basketball goes in with no problem. Football probably takes a little bit just from depth and things like that. But I’m not worried about us not being able to go right in and be competitive.”
San Diego State has a chance to further bolster its resume to prospective Power Five conferences by punching its ticket to the program’s first-ever Final Four with a win against Creighton on Sunday.