The ACC Adds Louisville

ACC presidents voted in an early-morning conference call today to add the University of Louisville to replace Maryland and bring the conference back up to 14 teams.

The addition of the Cardinals, who will leave the Big East for the ACC, is interesting on many levels. Perusing this morning’s articles:

The move is seen as a proactive one to snatch Louisville before another conference (the Big 12) removes them from the table. Per, UConn, USF, Cincinnati and Navy were also interested, but other conferences were not courting those schools, so they will be available for future expansion, if the ACC decides it’s necessary.

Louisville’s athletic budget may surprise you. Per, Louisville had a 2011-12 athletic budget of $84.4 million, higher than any member of the ACC (Florida State led the ACC with an $81.4 million budget). According to the ESPN article:

Louisville also has managed to maintain one of the nation’s top athletic budgets, despite receiving only $3.2 million annually from the Big East’s current media rights deal.

Once Louisville is in the ACC, and their media rights payout rises to $14 million and eventually to $17 million or more, the Cardinals’ athletic revenue will approach $100 million.

Louisville’s academics are ranked far below the rest of the ACC. According to the ACC Sports Journal, US News and World Report ranks Louisville’s academics #160, well below any current ACC member, and only five spots above West Virginia, which was never seriously considered for ACC membership (before joining the Big 12), due at least in part to academic considerations. Here are the ACC schools’ academic rankings, from the article:

USN&WR Academic Rankings of ACC Schools
No. 8 Duke
No. 17 Notre Dame (arriving from Big East)
No. 24 Virginia
No. 27 Wake Forest
No. 30 North Carolina
No. 31 Boston College
No. 36 Georgia Tech
No. 44 Miami
No. 58 Maryland (leaving for Big Ten)
No. 58 Pittsburgh (arriving from Big East)
No. 58 Syracuse (arriving from Big East)
No. 68 Clemson
No. 72 Virginia Tech
No. 97 Florida State
No.106 N.C. State
No. 160 Louisville

UConn, by contrast, has an academic ranking of #63. So the argument that a university must be a good academic fit before being invited to the ACC is now off the table and can be ignored. It’s all about survival and growth of the conference at this point.

Louisville’s athletics are very well-rounded. From the ESPN article:

Over the last six years, Louisville is the nation’s only school that has reached both the men’s and women’s basketball Final Four, a BCS bowl game, the College World Series and the Men’s Soccer College Cup.

There’s no question that athletically, Louisville is a good addition to the conference, perhaps the best available. But although the ACC has added an athletics program that is more impressive than Maryland’s was, and which is in much better financial shape than the Terps athletic department, the conference landscape is shifting rapidly. At this point, there’s no telling when the game of musical chairs is going to stop, and the stakes are higher than ever.

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  1. My how the Mighty ACC has fallen. Once the creme de la creme in terms of academics and tabacky road blue-blood pedigree programs, academic standards now go by the wayside in favor of expediency and a free, 1 hour trial of Go Meeting tele-conferencing. VT was held at the gates for years but now the situation has turned, the ACC has surrendered! This should be no surprise, given the academic fraud revelations pouring forth from Chapel Hill, the chi-canery at Miami and violations at Ga Tech. UNCs illustrious academic #30 ranking should be replaced with an asterisk that says “unable to equate elementary school work to college rankings.” Go ACC…aim high!

  2. It’s no secert that all this confernce re-alignment is based on money. Money that is suddenly appearing out of nowhere and growing without bounds. Remind anybody of other recent finanical bubbles??? At the heart of this latest move is Maryland’s economic troubles. Can a major college atheltic department go broke? Would the state or even worse conference have to bail them out?

  3. Like the move or not, Louisville brings an automatic rival to the ACC for most Hokie fans. Who knows how all these conference moves will shake out but, assuming nothing else changes (HAH!), the prospect of watching VT v. Louisville will fill stadiums and arenas.

    Anyone know how Duke and UNC fans are reacting to this?

  4. Do some planning, get to 16 schools, and solidy the conference. If it is about money, get the best markets, academics, and geographical fits, and then create a network. This is where the real monies is at. Personally, the reason the ACC is attactive is that we ca go to neighboring institutions of higher learning without having to fly (we can drive them easily). It creates good rivalries, provdes good recruiting beds, and has a scence of loyaty to our neighbors down the road. The SEC is good in football, but I for one like the ACC and will remain committed to it. It is were we belong………

  5. Mr. STEWART –

    WHY WAIT???????

    Expand now before the others. BIG MOVE – GET ND to be a full member and pluck Texas fromt the Big 12. Not Possible – then add CInci and UCON now. More later. Don’t need USF with Miami and FL St.

    DON’T be short sited and caught with the ACC britches down again – expand now.

  6. In my opinion, UL is a a good move. I, like many, believe the Big 12 is the most vulnerable conference. If there are to be 4 mega conferences, the PAC 12 has to acquire 4 more teams, at least. Louisville is now off the table(presumably). The PAC 12 will look east to the Big 12 for those teams. Regarding academics, how strict can that standard be upheld when the lowest ranking ACC academic school (pre UL) has been in for 60 years?

  7. I think the state of the UConn men’s basketball program (banned from post-season for academic reasons) make it nearly a non-starter.

    As an aside, i think the USNews rankings lose a bit more credibility each year. They basically rank schools by endowment size & exclusivity.

  8. Geographically, this borders Big 10 country. Proximity to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and of course Kentucky. Also, closer to ND perhaps. This is a huge new ACC market. Great for tv growth and recruiting.

  9. How does Lousville support such a large athletic budget? Do they get THAT MUCH money from selling Papa John’s the stadium naming rights? If yes, then we need to look into it.

      1. Even if the average ticket is $45 (wild guess, some seats definitely higher, but I assume some free student seats), then that’s still only $19 million a year. Yeah, VERY profitable for a basketball program, but still only what…$6 mil more than the difference between Big East and ACC conference payout.

        And you have to think that their football home games make $6 mil less than us, for example.

        Only thing I can think of is either:

        Big donors (ie, people paying as much to get priority seating for hoops as we do for football or

        Big other rights. Maybe their local radio package is big money?

        1. Could be; they are without much competition from pro sports in their market and adjacent markets. They are the only game in town for a big chunk of people.

        2. I am the only person I know (there are lots of Hokies around Louisville) that has season tickets to both schools for football. The prices and donations are comparable – a little less at Louisville – the stadium at Louisville is a little smaller than Lane but every seat is a chair (no benches) there is a party deck (like Jacksonville) and they sell liquor and beer at the football and basketball games. The tailgating is much better in Blacksburg but overall Louisville is a big boost to the ACC in football and basketball. I think Louisville for Maryland was a great trade!

  10. While the whole realignment drama makes me sick to me stomach, and I just want VT to be in a viable conference when the music stops, I am interested in how the football scheduling, division alignment, and cross division rival stuff is going to work out?

    MD was uva’s cross division rival and Louisville is filling MD’s spot. However, I can’t imagine that the ACC would just plop Louisville in as uva’s primary partner (particularly since I’ve read some items on the boards that uva wasn’t exactly high on adding Louisville in the first place). Wondering if there is going to be some division shuffling and wondering if our tie in with BC could be broken? I would love to see a little shake up and for us to get a better cross division rival out of all this mess. Not sure who that new team would be but I am sick of BC.

    1. I still think VT and UVA should be in separate sides and then be cross division rivals. If UVA ever gets good, it at least allows the possibility of a VT / UVA ACC Champ game, which already exists for FSU / Miami and UNC / NC St.

      1. Agreed…I think the cross division rivals should be your “natural” rival:

        FSU – Miami
        GT – Clem
        UNC – Duke
        NCSU – Wake
        VT – uva
        SU – BC
        Pitt – loserville

        Or something to that effect. Play around with it to balance the strength of the divisions, but if you are playing them every year, have them in opposite divisions.

    2. The divisions are only for football so they’ll probably redo them now to reflect the current balance of power in the league and to keep the rivalries. Remember that we voted to stay at 8 league games vs. 9 so in the near term at least we’ll be playing 6 against our division and only 2 a year out of our division with one being your rival. I could see them splitting UVA and VT and making us rivals. Then they could split BC and Syracuse and have them play each year. Louisville and Pitt would be natural as well. Keep GT/Clemson. I think our division could look like VT, Syracuse, Louisville, GT, UNC, Duke, Miami and the other would be UVA, BC, Pittsburgh, Clemson, NC State, Wake and FSU. That way no one can complain because it’s the same geographically for both divisions. All you’ve done there is replaced Maryland with Pitt, moved UVA to the Atlantic and given Louisville/Syracuse to the Coastal.

  11. I don’t understand the downside to this – and I hate to say it because I’m a Hokie but we’ve got a little bit of an inflated ego lately about our position in things. It seems like a lot of sour grapes. We were lucky to get into the ACC in the first place. Look at those rankings and think about VT vs. Louisville. Yes, they’re academics are not good but clearly as you pointed out that’s no longer a consideration. We were 10/12 on that chart anyhow. Louisville is one of the top 10 basketball programs in the nation, spends more money than anyone else in our conference and brings in a big new market, Kentucky/Ohio. Their other sports are top notch and their football has been better in the last 4 years than 75% of the current ACC schools. Meanwhile we have a great football program but we don’t spend a ton of money, our non revenue sports are decent, our basketball program has been comparable to their football program and we bring no television market that the ACC didn’t already have. This is the best option still out there that hasn’t been scooped up by one of the mega conferences and it will keep the ACC viable in the short term. If FSU and Clemson leave, which could happen and would kill the ACC in terms of football viability then VT will need to look at their options because if that happens the ACC will turn back to basketball and go grab UCONN and Cincinnati. I don’t see why FSU and Clemson would leave now though. As it is they’re in a decent football conference where they have a chance to win the league every year. Unless the money difference is monumental I doubt they would want to compete with Texas and Oklahoma every year. I know everyone loves MD because they’ve been in the ACC forever but anyway you slice it Louisville is a big upgrade. I wasn’t happy when the ACC brought in Pitt and Syracuse but that move necessitated this one.

    1. 1 Key line in there…..”Unless the money difference is monumental”

      That’s what’s really causing the angst, IMO. Projections have the SEC and B1G potentially making 10 to 20 million more, PER SCHOOL, than the ACC.

  12. This move is simply re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Without the addition of ND as a football member(which I don`t think will happen after their success this season),the ACC will either fall apart or be a much weaker conference. Word is that VT and other ACC schools are actively looking at other options(conferences). If FSU leaves soon,the other dominoes will fall quickly.

    1. Yeah, and two days ago everybody was saying that UVA and UNC were going to the Big 10 but today the UNC Chancellor sends an email out vehemently denying looking at any other conferences and saying that they want to be in the ACC for the next 60 years. As football fans first we only see the things that register for us. We don’t understand that A. the rest of the original ACC cares much more about basketball and B. for the most part they’re not really worried about going to BCS bowl games and making the necessary investments in those pursuits. Yes VT, FSU, Miami and Clemson are football schools first, but I seriously doubt any of the other ACC schools would care if they lost all four of us at this point. I think that the exit fee, along with the fairly easy path to the upcoming football playoff will keep FSU and Clemson happy but if it doesn’t, and they jump to the Big-12 we’ll really try to go to the SEC. I don’t think we want to make that move unless we have to though.

      1. UNC,VT,UVA,FSU,Clemson,etc are discussing possible moves with other conferences. For legal reasons,they can not admit to it at this point. The first acknowledgement will be if/when they announce a move.

        1. And I won the powerball last night….

          Seriously, Weaver/others ARE having conversations on contingency plans. He’s not doing his job if he isn’t. I have no inside connections to anyone… it’s just common sense. He’s not THAT DUMB.

          But just remember how we got into the ACC – the Governor of Virginia called the President of uva and told him it would be “good” for the Commonwealth. We were not even on their radar screen, and go back and read the “pig in a poke” comment from the then-current President of dook (I’d call her a female dog, but will refrain). I have no idea what “good” there was for uva out of this, but I’d bet there was something.

          We waited 50 years to get into the conference we should have founded – the ACC. We are where we belong, even if FreeShoes and Klemson bolt for “greener pastures.” If we play good teams and beat them, we’ll be in the conversations.

  13. This a great add to a conference that suffers from programs with low football attendance. Louisville travels well and sells out alot of their football games. They have a rabid fan base and a well rounded sports program. The ACC needs more programs like this.

    1. Certainly, academics aren’t what they used to be, when it comes to sport anyways. The money, greed, and corruption trump any classroom-quiz skills, million$ times over…
      If academics really matter to anyone that truly has influence in this whole conference realignment scramble, I’d be shocked.

    2. Atlee, I’ve said (and been skewered) for years that the academic argument is a bunch of smoke. Academics is good, but it’s all pride, and it don’t pay the bills. Money talks, nobody walks away from the money. The academic cryers are all a bunch of liars. You can tell when they are lying: their mouths are moving.

      I feel vindicated by the USNews academic listing. I thought West Virginia should have been in the ACC–at least they were in the “footprint.” (Remember the “footprint?” How many generations ago was that? What ever happened to the “footprint?” Oh, yeah, money became the bigger issue.)

      There is a lot of love lost with the Losers from Louisville (remember the Metro Conference and their “good riddance” to VT?) but I say, the deal’s done, let’s get it on. ACC basketball is as strong as ever with the additions including Pitt and Syracuse. Strengthening football is where the focus should be. And once again, I’ve said for years (I haven’t been skewered as much as received a lot of hairy eyeballs) since the best daggum college football conference in the U. S. of all America is the SEC that’s where we need to be looking for our football coaches if we are ever to be as good as the SEC. I’m no matchmaker, but Gene Cizak to NCState can’t be a bad deal. He’s got more national championship rings than any other football coach in the ACC. These moribund ACC football programs need to get competitive to get better. If NCState wins an MNC, it helps VT to get better. CFB has said that from day one regarding his players, that if in the depth chart the players are competing to start the players will get better. And he’s absolutely right. Works at the conference level as well.

      I’m old, and only have 65 years of experience and memory to go on, so it’s only MHO.

      Oh!! and BTW, when do we get rid of the ultimate crony Swofford? We need new fresh, young, blood in leadership of the ACC. Swofford’s deals have kept the league alive, God bless his heart. But that’s about all the ACC has: an oxygen tank by the bed.

  14. BOOO, I hate these guys and it goes back decades back when we were in the Metro conference in hoops. This could be our most hated opponent outside of uva and da U.

    May we roll over these guys for decades to come. I was leaning towards UConn coming in.

    GO HOKIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. This is a good move for the ACC. With Louisville, the ACC upgrades substantially in football (and even a little in basketball), and now adds Kentucky to the “footprint” in a common-sense geographical standpoint.

    Whether you want to admit it (and the SEC dead-enders never will), the ACC is actually a better conference today than it was two weeks ago.

  16. While I know this is about conference survival. I am still very disappointed. This move shows how weak the ACC really is. VT should be knocking on the SEC’s door and praying that they will open it.

    1. Only football is stronger in the SEC. The additions of Syracuse, Pitt and now Louisville enhance the ACC’s profile as the strongest basketball conference. The BE, b10 and SEC are arguably close but the gap has widenend significantly. Charley Strong has taken Louisville to 2-straight bowls and if they beat Rutgers tommorow night, they’ll be BE co-champs. Strong figured to move on but membership in the ACC may be just the incentive to keep him in Louisville.

  17. Well, I think this makes it pretty clear that the ACC has kissed Maryland good-bye. There was some degree of hope that maybe, if a judge somewhere could have been persuaded to issue an injunction preventing Maryland from leaving pending resolution of the ACC’s suit against them to recover the $50m exit fee, they may have been persuaded to re-consider their decision. That’s apparently out the window now. The ACC has accepted that they’re gone and is simply going to try and get that $50 million outta them.

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