Louisville officially joins ACC

Jul. 01, 2014 @ 08:37 PM

After bouncing around in three other leagues over 19 years, Tuesday marked Louisville’s official entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Cardinals are replacing Maryland after it joined the Big Ten along with Rutgers.

In a news conference that included ACC Commissioner John Swofford and Louisville President James Ramsey, Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich said, “We’re not the biggest, we’re not the best, but we’re going to work our butts off to make you very, very proud.”

Jurich stressed Louisville’s long-term commitment toward that end, and Swofford expressed confidence that this will be a permanent relationship.

The commissioner already believes the Cardinals’ presence bolsters the ACC’s strong resume’ including men’s basketball powerhouses North Carolina and Duke and defending BCS football champion Florida State.

“It’s more than fair to say from an historical and success standpoint, we are now the strongest collection of basketball programs that have ever been assembled,” Swofford said, “and we will have four of the five active Hall of Fame coaches on the sidelines this year.”

That list includes Cardinals men’s coach Rick Pitino, who was absent from the news conference. But he echoed Swofford’s belief in a statement that said “we’re very, very excited to be joining the ACC.”

Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino was also absent but said in a release that “we are thrilled this day has finally arrived.”

Though Maryland’s departure for the Big Ten opened the door for Jurich to call Swofford and ask that Louisville be considered as a replacement, the commissioner said the school had been on its radar as a candidate for expansion. However, the sudden vacancy created an urgency in which the conference weighed Louisville’s academic and athletic qualities over 11 days.

Swofford said Louisville’s strengths in both areas made the decision obvious. The ACC’s invitation ended up sparking a remarkable run of success that’s been called “The Year of the Cardinal.”

Louisville’s football team won the Sugar Bowl. Both basketball teams reached the championship games with the men claiming the school’s third title. Baseball capped the year with the first of back-to-back College World Series berths.