David Glenn of ACC Sports Journal reports the conference’s presidents and chancellors will vote on potential expansion invitees in a 7 a.m. ET conference call Wednesday. Glenn adds Louisville is the most likely to receive an invitation for the spot Maryland’s departure to the Big Ten Conference opened. Membership requires a 75 percent affirmative vote.
Other candidates are Cincinnati, Connecticut, Navy and USF. Connecticut was a frequently discussed possibility for ACC expansion after the conference added Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Boston College has been on a proverbial island in the Northeast since leaving the Big East for the ACC in 2004.
Louisville provides a better football option than Connecticut, and its basketball program would only add to the conference’s illustrious hardwood legacy. However, while the Cardinals may be the primary target in this go-around of expansion, the lineup outside the ACC’s door gives it options should it pursue 16-team super-conference status.
All five universities mentioned are Big East members either present (UL, Cincinnati, USF, UConn) or future (Navy is scheduled to join for football exclusively in 2015). That spells trouble for a conference that clings to its football relevance desperately.
The Big East lost Rutgers to the Big Ten before the Thanksgiving holiday. RU was the fifth university to part ways with the conference since expansion tremors began to rumble in the summer of 2010, joining Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia and TCU, which never played a game. Conference commissioner Mike Aresco made contingency plans, on Tuesday announcing the addition of Tulane in all sports, with East Carolina possibly in line for a football-only bid.
Future additions Boise State and San Diego State, as well as independent target BYU, were rumored to have been contacted by the Mountain West to either remain in or rejoin the conference.
The reformatted Big East very much resembles a current non-automatic qualifier conference — mid-major by basketball standards — and lacks the all-important tie-ins when the new playoff system begins in 2014. For a growing program like Louisville, access to either the Orange Bowl or four-team tournament is crucial to take that next step.