The Louisville Cardinals will officially join the Atlantic Coast Conference at midnight on Tuesday, July 1 becoming the the seventh former Big East school to leave for the ACC in the process.
Louisville played last season in the American Athletic Conference and after agreeing to pay an $11 million exit fee will join a conference that all of a sudden is stacked from a basketball standpoint and becomes much stronger in football.
The Cardinals will play in the same Atlantic Division as the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers, effectively replacing the Maryland Terrapins who left to join the Big Ten Conference along with Rutgers who join that conference at the same time as the Louisville move is official.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford commented on the addition of Louisville in November of 2012 after the presidents and chancellors okay’d their acceptance in the conference.
“When you look at Louisville, you see a university and an athletic program that has all the arrows pointed up — a tremendous uptick there, tremendous energy,” Swofford said on a teleconference. “It’s always an overall fit in every respect and I think that’s what we found.”
The same day, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich commented on the move to the ACC.
“I’m very excited to join this prestigious conference,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said. “For the ACC to have faith in us means the world to us athletically and academically. 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. The Big East has been very good to this university. I thought (when Louisville joined in 2005), it would be a lifetime commitment until things around us started deteriorating. Instead of looking back, we’re looking forward. We want to be a great partner with every institution in the ACC.”
The football team with Bobby Petrino back for his second stint as the Cardinal’s head coach will face a daunting ACC schedule in their first season in the conference with the Miami Hurricanes their first rotating opponent in football and a road trip to Notre Dame in November looming with games vs. Florida State and at Clemson to boot.
From a basketball standpoint, you are not going to find a deeper conference with the Cardinals routinely in the mix for a Final Four spot, joining the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Pitt and defending champion, Virginia.