The presidents and chancellors of the ACC held a conference call Wednesday morning to discuss plans to replace charter member Maryland, who will be leaving to join the Big Ten in 2014. That vote resulted in adding Louisville to the ACC starting in 2014.
As originally reported by ACC Sports Journal, a vote was held Wednesday morning with Louisville indicated to be the leading candidate to fill Maryland’s position in the conference. Any expansion candidate must receive at least 75 percent of the votes to be approved for an invitation to join the ACC. Louisville was a unanimous selection.
The competition to fill the looming vacancy to be left by Maryland picked up since the decision to join the Big Ten was made. In addition to Louisville, other schools such as Big East members Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida have been reported to make a case to join the ACC. Navy has also been tied to some reports suggesting an interest to join the ACC. Navy is scheduled to join the Big East in 2015.
Louisville is a logical fit for the ACC, with a strong reputation as a basketball school that should fit in immediately among programs like Duke and North Carolina, and the football program should be entering the ACC at a good time with a roster capable of competing right away. A rising overall athletic department, highlighted by growth in football, as well as a renewed investment in to athletic facilities have made Louisville a program on the rise with legitimate potential to keep the momentum going. What holds Louisville back in the realignment madness is a lack of a lucrative television market, but that was not enough to keep them out of the ACC for now.
The ACC is adding Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse in 2013, putting the conference at 14 members. For now the ACC appears settled on 14 members, but with the Big East losing another program it could be expected to see Connecticut and Cincinnati each sell their merits more vocally with the ACC.
Connecticut may hold a slightly better chance to receive membership, although the television exposure UConn would add is only marginally more than what can be gained by adding Louisville. UConn’s academic profile is a better overall fit within the ACC and closer to the profiles of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Like Louisville, UConn also brings a strong basketball program that would figure to make for some attractive basketball match-ups in ACC play.
Cincinnati might make for an interesting candidate as well. Cincinnati ranks below the academic profiles of each ACC member, but does rank higher than Louisville, but what makes Cincinnati attractive is exposure to nearly triple the potential television viewers than Louisville, more than Louisville and UConn would combine for. If the ACC moved to invite Louisville, UConn and Cincinnati the conference would over five million TV households in 2014.
The loss of all three programs would also be another big blow for the Big East, which added Tulane and East Carolina on Tuesday. The ACC has already taken Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College and will be adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse next fall. The Big East is fighting to maintain membership while setting up a new television package. Until the Big East can prove to have a stable membership, the odds of completing a rewarding television deal may be slim.
Regardless of what happens with UConn and Cincinnati, the Big East could still be in good position to have a spot in the upcoming college football playoff format, but that also assumes the conference remains in operation.
This may be a reach for the ACC, but in this day of conference realignment, nothing should be considered off the table.
Kevin is a national college football writer for rootshed.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be reached at email@example.com.