Louisville is the next to jump ship

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The game of collegiate musical chairs continues.

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Wednesday, the music stopped, and Louisville grabbed a spot in the ACC - leaving UConn and Cincinnati standing.  And the Big East bleeding again.

Atlantic Coast Conference presidents have voted to add Louisville as the 14th member of their league, effectively replacing Maryland - which announced last week their intentions to move to the Big Ten.  As expected - and feared - Louisville's departure from the Big East Conference is expected to take place beginning in 2014.  

Big East rules require a $10 million exit fee and 27 months notice, but the Cardinals -- like several schools before them -- could negotiate a higher buyout to leave before the 27-month period.  

The ACC apparently also considered UConn and Cincinnati for membership. However, several sources have reported the league only wanted Louisville because there is a sense among ACC presidents that the conference can add more schools at a later date if they lose any other schools.

Ultimately, Louisville was found to be the best choice because of its "aggressive approach" to success, including a commitment to "marquee athletics programs," a source told ESPN. The recent additions of Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame -- which joins in all sports except football but has a scheduling partnership with the conference in that sport -- make the ACC feel as though it is "in a position of strength," the source said.

No kidding.  Which is a position the Big East is apparently not in. 

According to a UConn source, reported by the New Haven Register, the Huskies “worked really hard (to state a case to the ACC),” and that president Susan Herbst talked “to a ton of presidents” and athletic director Warde Manuel “talked to just about every AD.

“It wasn’t like we didn’t work at it, It was just the timing (was tough).”

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Cincinnati had also tried to make a public statement about its virtues over Louisville and UConn, but apparently to no avail.  Yet.  The Big East Conference had expected at least one more departure from the league when Tulane and East Carolina (football only) were announced as new members Tuesday.

"While I'm very excited, I'm very sad for the Big East," said Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.  "The Big East has been very good to this university. I thought (when Louisville joined in 2005), it would be a lifetime commitment until things around us started deteriorating.  Instead of looking back, we're looking forward.  We want to be a great partner with every institution in the ACC."

The makeup of the ACC, in 2014, will now include Big East ex-patriots Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Notre Dame (the Irish in every sport but football).  West Virginia and TCU moved to the Big 12 Conference for this season, and Rutgers moves to the Big Ten for 2014.

The Big East's present media rights contract, which is in negotiation with several television entities, brought football schools like Louisville $3.2 million annually.  The Cardinals have the highest budget of any Big East (or current ACC) school, and with the ACC's current media rights deal, stand to increase their intake to approximately $18 million annually.

Since 2004, the nation's top five conferences -- SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC -- have announced the addition of 15 new members, causing a wave of disruption among virtually every Division I conference from coast to coast.  The plundering of the Big East (with 10 schools departing over that time) almost certainly, through perception alone, has knocked it from its former lofty perch.  Nevertheless, the Big East is scheduled to add nine schools between 2013 and 2015 - Boise State, San Diego State, East Carolina and Navy in football only; SMU, Houston, Central Florida, Memphis and Tulane for all sports.


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