Louisville to replace Maryland in ACC

Nickalas Tabbert

The Atlantic Coast Conference has found a replacement for Maryland as its 14th member.

Louisville, a member of the Big East Conference, will likely join the ACC starting in 2014, the same year Maryland joins the Big Ten.

The Cardinals will be required to pay the Big East a $10 million exit fee and give 27 months’ notice. But Louisville should be able to negotiate a higher buyout to leave before the 27-month period, ESPN reported.

Louisville is the seventh school in the past year that has announced it is leaving the Big East. West Virginia, TCU, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Rutgers are also on the move.

ACC commissioner John Swofford said Louisville was the best fit for the conference after Maryland announced it would join the Big Ten.

“When you look at Louisville, you see a university and an athletic program that has all the arrows pointed up — a tremendous uptick there,” Swofford said in a teleconference. “It’s always an overall fit in every respect, and I think that’s what we found.”

Swofford said the league is comfortable staying at 14 full members with the addition of Louisville. There have been repeated talks as teams realign themselves that college sports will move to 16-team superconferences.  

Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich said he has mixed emotions about switching conferences.

“For the ACC to have faith in us means the world to us athletically and academically,” he said. “The biggest winner is our school being associated with all of the prestigious schools.

“While I’m very excited, I’m very sad for the Big East,” Jurich said. “The Big East has been very good to this university.”

Louisville has maintained one of the nation’s top athletics budgets despite receiving only $3.2 million annually from the Big East’s current media-rights deal. The Cardinal’s current budget ranks higher than that of any current ACC member, ESPN reported.