ACC presidents and chancellors voted to add Louisville to the conference on Wednesday morning. The Cardinals will replace Maryland, assuming the conference’s lawsuit against UM is settled in time for the Terrapins’ scheduled 2014 departure for the Big Ten.
Louisville joining the ACC is the latest fast paced shakeup to occur in conference realignment, a subject that had been dormant during the season but reignited when rumors of Rutgers and Maryland joining the Big Ten emerged on Nov. 16. Those rumors were almost immediately substantiated; the Big Ten officially welcomed both into the fold just days later.
The addition of Louisville to the ACC happened with similar immediacy, though the university’s departure from the Big East is hardly a surprise. Louisville was a suggested target of other conferences for over a year, the moment West Virginia and TCU bolted for the Big 12. However, the Big 12 was regularly the destination mentioned with the Cardinals even gaining a vote of confidence from Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance.
A possible roadblock to a hypothetical ACC move were academics. A 22 percent four-year graduation rate and No. 160 ranking according to the US News and World Report could have been a deterrent for a conference priding itself on academic strength, but Louisville’s other assets prevailed. Specifically, the university has a $68.8 million athletic budget, which Yahoo! Sports columnist Pat Forde writes is second only to North Carolina’s $72.2 million.
The benefits for Louisville are obvious. The Cardinals gain access to the ACC’s all-important entry into the forthcoming playoff and Orange Bowl; from the viewpoint of the suits who make these decisions, even more valuable is the ACC being in on the majority of revenue created under the system, which ESPN.com reporter Brett McMurphy wrote would be in excess of $7.3 billion over 12 years.
There’s no telling how much Papa John’s would have to raise the price of slices at Cardinal Stadium to generate that kind of scratch were Louisville remaining in the Big East.