Conference realignment: Louisville to the Atlantic Coast Conference

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Big East loses a major member to the ACC.

What a way to wake up.

According to sources at ESPN and CBS, the Atlantic Coast Conference voted to add the Louisville Cardinals to their conference.

Connecticut, Cincinnati, and Louisville were all openly vying for the spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference created when Maryland chose to accept the Big Ten's invitation; the Cardinals, with sparkling new facilities, decent tradition in football and a very good tradition in basketball, made the cut.

The Cardinals have been members of the Big East for seven years, coming over from Conference USA in the Big East's annexation of major Conference USA programs (Cincinnati/ South Florida/ Louisville/ DePaul/ Marquette) in 2005.

The ACC's move improves the credibility and competitiveness of the football and basketball parts of the conference. In terms of "market share," the Cardinals bring no huge cities, but have a strong following. Sources expect the Cardinals to make the move to the more southern-based conference for the 2014 season.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has been a strong advocate of the Big East and a strong critic of realignment. We'll look out for what comments he has on this move, bringing the Cardinals farther from natural rivals like Cincinnati and closer to the Carolinas... and Boston, where Pitino coached in the professional ranks for the Celtics.

The Big East Tournament will miss the Cardinals, who often recruited the New York area.

The prevailing thought seemed to be that Connecticut's better academic standing would entice ACC member votes to extend an invitation. The location - near enough to New York to bring in northeastern interest - was also thought to be of interest to the ACC.

The youth of the Huskies' program (about a decade on the top level of Division I football) likely hurt the program, as well as the ACC's deal with ESPN. ESPN is already nationwide; where the Big Ten needs to move into markets to try and get their network on a higher and more lucrative tier of cable channels, ESPN and the ACC has no such need.

The Big East added Tulane and East Carolina yesterday to replace Rutgers and expand the reach of the Big East Conference. No indication yet on whether the Big East will aggressively pursue another team to replace Louisville.

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