In the wake of Maryland's sudden decision to leave for the B1G conference, the ACC has responded by inviting Louisville to join the ACC starting in 2014. The ACC presidents met via conference call this morning to discuss the matter and formally invite Louisville into the league. The vote for Louisville was unanimous.
The rumor mill in the days following Maryland's announced departure had centered on a handful of possible replacements. UConn and Louisville were the most widely discussed with Cincinnati reportedly making a late push for membership and some fun scuttlebut about the ACC possibly inviting Navy. Assuming the ACC was going to add just one team, it really came down to UConn versus Louisville. The alleged detractor to inviting the Cardinals was the school's academic profile. The ACC prides itself on being a conference with members ranked in the in top 100 or so of the US News and World Report college rankings. Louisville is 160th and will be the lowest ranked ACC member by a good bit. NC State is currently the lowest ranked school at 106.
As it turns out, the ACC presidents were smart enough to not allow that particular obstacle to prevent what is being hailed as a great move for both parties. Had the ACC gone with UConn, it is more likely that FSU and Clemson would be unhappy since adding the Huskies would be seen as a "basketball-centric" move. Louisville brings a solid football program into the fold and a basketball team from a hoops crazed state with a NCAA title winning coach in Rick Pitino.
The addition of the Cardinals is a win-win in the two major revenue sports. It also makes sense for a variety of reasons which makes it a bit of an oddball amid the recent moves. The Big East on Monday moved to add Tulane in all sports and ECU in football. Even the B1G's decision to invite Maryland and Rutgers was a money grab based on cable system subscriptions but did not boost the league in terms of the on-the-field play. With the ACC adding Louisville, football and basketball are augmented with possible plans to create an ACC Network in conjunction with ESPN as a means of securing more TV revenue. If the ACC can add a school to maintain or raise the quality of play in the field and fine a means of enhancing revenue, it should stabilize things significantly.
As a side note to the realignment business, the ACC is taking Maryland to court to ensure the Terps pay the $50 million exit fee. While the ACC made a necessary move in adding Louisville, this game is far from over. How the courts deal with Maryland and their ACC exit could weaken or strengthen the ACC's position in keeping other possible defectors in tow.