Louisville headed to the ACC

After more than a year of chatter about conference realignment, the University of Louisville athletic department finally has a new home. The Cardinals will leave the Big East Conference. Cardinal Authority has the details.

The Atlantic Coast Conference it is.

The next move in the conference realignment dropped this morning and it involves the University of Louisville athletic department.

The ACC has voted Louisville in as a new member of the conference – likely starting in 2014 – and U of L is expected to accept the invitation. Sources say a news conference could happen as soon as this afternoon.

"A perfect fit," one source called the move.

U of L would replace Maryland, a charter member since 1971 which will leave in 2014 for the Big Ten. The Cardinals would give the ACC a 14-team football league in ‘14. Notre Dame will also be in league in all sports except football.

Louisville has been a member of the Big East Conference since 2005, winning a conference title in eight sports since joining the league.

The Cardinals are the only NCAA team since 2000 to win a BCS bowl game; to appear in the men's basketball Final Four, the College Baseball World Series, the women's basketball Final Four, and the men's soccer College Cup national final.

U of L doesn't match Maryland's TV market (Washington-Baltimore) but the overall athletic program across the board was attractive to the ACC, along with the way the programs at U of L are financed and the facilities.

The Cardinals reported $87.8 million in 2011-12 athletic revenue, which is more than any ACC school. Florida State was the closest at $81.4 million.

Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey worked at North Carolina as the vice chancellor for finance and administration and also as the adjunct professor in UNC's master's of administration program.

Ramsey said last week that U of L would fit in the ACC. It was the first time any administrator at Louisville mentioned a potential conference destination for the Cardinals by name.

The move comes just about a year after U of L and its fans felt it was likely headed to the Big 12. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell got involved in the process and West Virginia eventually edged out the Cardinals for a spot in the Big 12.

U of L fans have held out hopes the Big 12 would add more teams, while university officials remained loyal to the Big East during some trying times.

The Big East lost Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and then Notre Dame also left, adding teams to replace those schools. The latest addition to the Big East was Tulane on Tuesday for all sports and East Carolina for football.

"It's not the Big East we all know anymore," one source said.

Now, the Cardinals don't have to worry about the Big East. The ACC is the new home and it should be a grand partnership.

Cardinal Authority will have complete coverage all day.

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