ACC takes Louisville to replace Maryland; all conference presidents picked Cardinals
The ACC presidents are on a conference call right now that is "zeroing in" on whether to add Louisville as a 14th member, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation. Presidents have discussed the possibility of Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati and others in recent days but seem to be settling on the Cardinals, a huge coup for aggressive athletic director Tom Jurich. UConn is seen as the better academic/TV market option, but Louisville has a strong basketball/football presence.
|The Cardinals are replacing the Terps in the ACC. (US Presswire)|
Louisville will join the ACC. It's a done deal after every president voted in favor of the move Wednesday morning, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.
Presidents have discussed the possibility of Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati and others in recent days but settled on the Cardinals, a huge coup for aggressive UL athletic director Tom Jurich. UConn was in the mix because of its strong academic ties and its location in a strong television market, but Louisville's strong basketball/football presence won out.
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ESPN's Brett McMurphy first reported the news of Louisville's winning vote.
The league felt it was academically strong enough already to worry about Louisville, which is not ranked as a top-100 university according to several national rankings. The league looked for the best fit. Louisville has a healthy budget of $80-plus-million in revenue while UConn's football program suffers (10-13 last two seasons). Coach Charlie Strong has UL positioned for a potential BCS bowl should the Cardinals beat Rutgers this week.
Louisville replaces Maryland, which defected to the Big Ten early last week.
Once that happened, the league felt well-prepared for expansion after adding Pitt/Syracuse 14 months ago. The league fielded calls from at least four Big East teams. On Wednesday, the vote happened quickly because presidents had talked among themselves for the last few days.
Consider that adding Louisville is a strategic move in the unpredictable college football landscape, according to a source. Louisville could have been an option for the Big 12 had it decided to add to 10. In fact, Louisville had positioned itself to join the Big 12 for years, not wanting to be left behind if the Big East struggled to execute a viable long-term television deal. The Big 12 never invited the Cardinals, who now have a stable home.
"I think at some point you have to make a decision -- do you want to sit back and let somebody else dictate what happens to you or react?" said a source with direct knowledge of the ACC's plans.
Two league sources believe the ACC is not interested in expanding to 16 at this time. "I don't think there's any sentiment at all about doing anything else right now," according to the source.
Doesn't mean it won't happen down the road, especially if realignment shifts to four superconferences. And the ACC Network has evaluated the possibility of an ACC Network to rival the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12's digital network, though nothing's imminent and the conference feels the timing isn't right.
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