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Louisville heads to ACC

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich says his school joined the ACC for fear of being left behind after conference realignment.

Associated Press

Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich says his school joined the ACC for fear of being left behind after conference realignment.

ACC presidents voted unanimously to add Louisville to the conference Wednesday.

Louisville's athletic director, Tom Jurich, said it left the Big East because he was concerned his school would be left behind in the latest round of realignment, which began last week with Maryland and Rutgers leaving the ACC and Big East, respectively, for the Big Ten in 2014.

"There's no question about it," Jurich said, "especially when you're sitting in our chairs."

Louisville has not negotiated an exit deal with the Big East. The league has a 27-month notification period. But Pittsburgh and Syracuse paid $7.5 million, $2.5 million more than the exit fee, to join the ACC in 2013. The Big East's fee now is $10 million.

"When you look at Louisville, you see a university and an athletic program that has all the arrows pointed up," said ACC commissioner John Swofford, who added he is comfortable at 14 full members with the addition of Louisville.

Football and TV remain the driving forces for realignment.

The four-team playoff and six bowl games associated with it begin in 2014. Champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC are guaranteed berths. Only one team from the other conferences — Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — is guaranteed one.

Meanwhile, each of the five automatic leagues has TV deals worth at least $2.5 billion. In April 2011, the Big East turned down a nine-year, $1.17 billion offer from ESPN. At that time, it still had Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville. The conference is still seeking a deal.

Louisville was a candidate to join the Big 12 last year before it took West Virginia. Maryland's move created a new chance. But it wasn't a lock. Connecticut and Cincinnati also submitted applications to the ACC.

"I know this may seem like a tough moment for our fans, but we need to focus on the fundamentals of academic success across the university and in our athletic program," said UConn president Susan Herbst, whose school, unlike Louisville, is in the top 20 nationally in research dollars and top 40 in TV markets. "We will be athletically successful regardless of our conference."

Said Cincinnati AD Whit Babcock, whose school also has a bigger TV market than Louisville: "I hope (our fans) will hang in there with us and give us a chance."

Louisville is the fourth school over the past 15 months and seventh over the past decade to leave the Big East for the ACC. Notre Dame announced in September it will join for all sports except football and hockey at an undetermined date, and Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech previously left.

"I don't know where the end is or if there is one," USF football coach Skip Holtz said. "Everybody thought at the end of last year, 'Okay, the dust settled. We're pretty much set. Let's develop these new traditions and rivalries.' I think everybody has to continue to build their program from top to bottom. You don't know what's going to happen in the future."

In a statement, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco wished Louisville well and said, "We are committed to a vibrant and dynamic future."

Tuesday, the Big East replaced Rutgers with Tulane and brought in East Carolina for football only. Both will join in 2014 to give it 12 football teams. Wednesday, Navy reaffirmed its commitment to make it 13 in 2015.

While AD Chet Gladchuk said the caliber of schools departing the Big East is, "not necessarily what we envisioned," he said the Midshipmen no longer can continue as an independent and the conference fills their needs in terms of scheduling and TV.

More realignment: Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic will leave the Sun Belt for C-USA, according to multiple media reports. The moves are expected for 2014, when C-USA will have 13 teams. Charlotte will make it 14 in 2015. FAU will join Florida International, which previously left the Sun Belt.

Gruden, Browns say no truth to Vols report

Jon Gruden and the Cleveland Browns denied a report that he could get a ownership stake in the team as part of a deal to coach the University of Tennessee.

Late Tuesday, Memphis' WREG-TV reported Gruden, the former Bucs coach and Vols graduate assistant whose wife attended Tennessee, has an offer from the Vols to replace the fired Derek Dooley that includes "a piece" of the Browns. New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam went to Tennessee and is a big booster.

"Jimmy Haslam has no involve­ment in the University of Tennessee head coaching search," the Browns said. "And the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous."

Gruden denied the report during ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike show.

"I'm just excited about Monday Night Football," he said. "I like what I'm doing."

Miles gets extension: A day after reports of talks with Arkansas, Les Miles has a new seven-year contract to remain LSU's coach. The deal runs through 2019, which amounts to a two-year extension. Financial terms weren't disclosed. But the Associated Press reported he will get $4.3 million a season, up $550,000. Miles, 85-20 with one BCS title and two BCS title game appearances in eight seasons with the Tigers, said representatives from Arkansas reached out to him in a preliminary way but denied they offered a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

Ohio State: The Ohio Supreme Court suspended for one year the law license of an attorney whose emails sparked a scandal. Christopher Cicero sent emails to then-coach Jim Tressel in April 2010, warning him that players were selling or trading memorabilia for tattoos. The court ruled he was wrong to discuss his talks with tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife because he was a potential client.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Louisville heads to ACC 11/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 11:55pm]
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