ESPN  is reporting that the University of Louisville athletic program has been invited to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). A conference call amongst the presidents of the ACC schools on Wednesday morning led to the decision. The move will take place in 2014. According to Big East rules, if a team leaves the conference they are required to pay a $10 million exit fee and give 27 months notice. Clearly some negotiation of terms must come into play for the move to be effective starting in 2014.
The opening was created when the University of Maryland decided to leave for the Big Ten. Within the ACC, this move restores a balance of 14 schools and includes the earlier additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two other Big East schools who have chosen to leave for the stability of the ACC. Notre Dame also joins for all sports except football, the same configuration they maintained with the Big East.
The move comes after a years of flux for the Big East conference including behind the scenes efforts from ESPN to break up the conference over a television deal in which the network wanted to pay significantly less to broadcast Big East games.
Rick Pitino has been a staunch advocate for the Big East due to the powerful elite basketball programs and its iconic season ending tournament at Madison Square Garden. However in the last couple of years with schools bolting left and right, the argument hasn’t been as strong in favor of continuing with the conference.
The move should be a good one for football moving forward. With an eye toward better scheduling and a new measuring stick for recruiting, Charlie Strong will be in an improved position to challenge for a national championship in football. Possibly due to its Big East affiliation, the Cardinals were consistently the lowest ranked undefeated team in the country. Now with two losses, they are out of the polls completely, even though there are other 2 loss teams that remain. The lack of respect for the Big East as a football conference theoretically plays into that positioning.
The move is not only good for Louisville, but the ACC gets upgrades as well. Over the last 6 years, Louisville is the only school to have both mens and womens basketball reach the Final Four and the baseball team reach the College World Series.
The repositioning comes on the heels of last years attempt to join the Big 12. That bid closed when the Big 12 chose West Virginia over Louisville.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton