“The addition of Louisville, with its aggressive approach to excel in every respect, will only strengthen our conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said on the conference call. “Louisville is committed in its approach to doing everything at the highest level, and as we’ve seen, especially in recent years, their success has been well documented and their facilities are truly outstanding.”
The ACC effectively chose Louisville over the University of Connecticut, according to an ACC source, at least in part because of recent turmoil in the Huskies’ basketball program, which put off some of the conference’s presidents and chancellors. The Cardinals football team, now 9-2, would gain a Bowl Championship Series bid with a win Thursday night against Rutgers. The men’s basketball team has a storied past that includes two national championships and two Final Four appearances in the last eight seasons. The Cardinals are currently ranked fifth in the nation.
Louisville’s departure is only the latest blow to the Big East. In just more than two months, the ACC has pilfered four Big East schools: Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (though the latter not for football), and now Louisville. Go back nearly a decade — to 2003 and 2004, when the ACC swiped Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College — and no league has raided another more frequently or thoroughly than the ACC has the Big East.
Louisville’s move prompted Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco’s second farewell speech in nine days, following Rutgers’s confirmation Nov. 20 that it was leaving for the Big Ten. Louisville becomes the seventh Big East member in the past year to announce that it’s leaving, following West Virginia, Texas Christian (which reneged before even suiting up as a Big East school), Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Rutgers.
“The Big East has anticipated the continuing realignment that is reshaping college athletics and has already made important additions as part of our vision for the future,” Aresco said in a statement. “We will continue moving forward to fulfill that vision, which includes a strong national football conference and a strong and storied basketball conference. . . . We are committed to a vibrant and dynamic future for the Big East Conference.”