A little over a week after original member Maryland voted to depart for the Big Ten, the ACC’s presidents and chancellors voted to add Louisville to the league as a replacement, according to multiple reports.
The Cardinals will need to pay a $10 million exit fee from the Big east and give 27 months notice, although that has been negotiated before. Louisville is expected to join the league in 2014.
Reports say the league presidents also considered Connecticut and Cincinnati for the 14th full member.
Louisville presents an upgrade in football over a struggling Maryland program. The Cardinals were ranked as high as 10th this year after a 9-0 start under third-year head coach Charlie Strong. They’ll play Rutgers for a spot in a BCS game Saturday. The program had sustained success under John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino in the early 2000′s, getting to the Orange Bowl in 2006.
The basketball program, coached by Rick Pitino, is among the nation’s best as well, having reached two Final Fours and two elite Eights since 2004. Overall, Louisville’s athletic budget of $84.4 million is higher than any ACC school.
According to ESPN, the addition of Louisville will not affect the ACC’s media rights deal, which is expected to increase to $18 million annually, still well behind the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12.
The Cardinals are the sixth former Big East team to join the ACC, joining Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh.(It’s seven if you count Notre Dame’s part-time membership in both leagues.)
It creates something of a reunion of the defunct Metro Conference, which housed Louisville from 1975-95. It also had Georgia Tech (’75-78), Florida State (’76-91) and Virginia Tech (’78-95).
Virginia Tech and Louisville have played seven times in football, with the Hokies holding a 5-2 record. Their last meeting was the Gator Bowl in 2005, a 35-24 victory that was marred by Marcus Vick‘s stomp of Elvis Dumervil. The teams could potentially meet in the Russell Athletic Bowl this postseason.
How exactly the Cardinals fit into the league’s setup remains to be seen. Maryland was in the Atlantic Division and a crossover rival of Virginia. Could the addition of Louisville mean a realignment of the two divisions? Would it make sense for Virginia Tech, which is the closest school to Louisville in driving distance, to have it as a new crossover rival instead of Boston College?
(UPDATE: ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a teleconference today that division realignment hasn’t been discussed. He anticipates that Louisville will simply take Maryland’s spot in the previously agreed upon scheduling format. That means the Cardinals are in the Atlantic Division and will play Virginia as a crossover rival).
And does this move satisfy the football-focused members of the ACC enough that it will provide stability to the league or will schools continue to get looks (and possibly look back) at the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC?
Thoughts, Hokies fans?