Louisville to the ACC: Conference Presidents Approve Bid to the Louisville Cardinals

By M. Shannon Smallwood

Before most folks were even brewing their first cup of coffee, the ACC Presidents were busy trying to determine the future of its conference.

A trio of teams were on the table to replace the Maryland Terrapins who were bought out by the Big 10.

But only one, at this point, were considered a viable option for the ACC

And that one school is…

The Louisville Cardinals.

“Given the way the conversations have gone to this point, either Louisville will be approved for an invitation (Wednesday) or nobody will be approved for an invitation,” a source told David Glenn of ACCSports.com. “Any other result would be a major surprise.”

Yes, the Cardinals win the expansion lottery in more than a few ways this morning.

  • One, it is a huge financial gain for Louisville leaving the Big East and coming on board to the 15-year, $3.6 Billion TV deal the ACC has with ESPN and the ACC Network.
  • Two, it brings Rick Pitino and his coaching legacy to the deep traditions of Tobacco Road.
  • Three, it will keep Charlie Strong in place as Cardinals Head Football Coach at Louisville. Look for him to get a big extension in the next few weeks from Louisville.
  • Four, it opens up a new TV market of around one million new viewers.

But the biggest win is for ACC Football.

Trading the Terps for Louisville is actually one of the best things that could have happened.

And it’s a dagger into the heart of the Big 12 who desperately needed to add two teams to get back to the 12 to host a Conference Championship again.

“Conferences aren’t going to look like they did before,” Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported today from a person with knowledge of Louisville’s move. “Anyone who is thinking, we’re just fine and there’s no need for anything to happen is some combination of naïve and ill-informed or not waking up to where the business is going.”

Not only did this meeting this morning advance the vision and direction of the ACC, it also quickly ends the discussion of the pending demise of the conference.

Something Big 10 Commissioner James Delany wants desperately to see happen as he covets the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Virginia Cavaliers.

But at this point now, the ACC seems stronger than ever.

And it still has Connecticut Huskies, Cincinnati Bearcats, Navy Midshipmen and the South Florida Bulls still doing everything in its power to be No. 15 and No. 16.

The other item on the agenda for this morning’s meeting was the lawsuit against Maryland for it to pay in full the $50 Million exit fee.

The Terps are strapped for cash and Delany said the Big 10 would not do anything to help them pay this exit fee.

But with the addition of Louisville, it hurts Delany’s stance to break apart the ACC and look for the Big 10 to do something more to assist Maryland in the payment of this debt.

No doubt a great day for Louisville, the ACC Presidents and Commissioner John Swofford.


M Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years of experience in broadcasting and journalism in professional baseball and college athletics and is the ACC Football Guru, SEC Voice of Reason and College Football Comedian for Rant Sports. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.


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