The ACC this morning voted to add the Univ. of Louisville as its 14th member (ACC). ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy cites sources as saying that UL is expected to join the ACC in '14, the same year the Univ. of Maryland leaves the ACC for the Big Ten. The Big East "requires a $10 million exit fee and 27 months notice, but the Cardinals -- like several schools before them -- should be able to negotiate a higher buyout to leave before the 27-month period." The ACC considered UConn and the Univ. of Cincinnati for membership, but sources said that the conference "only wanted Louisville because there is a sense among league presidents that the ACC can add more schools at a later date if the ACC lost any other schools." McMurphy notes UL maintains "one of the nation's top athletic budgets" at $84.4M, which is "higher than any current ACC member." The addition of UL "will not affect the ACC's new media rights deal" (ESPN.com, 11/28). YAHOO SPORTS' Pat Forde reports several Big East schools "made clear their interest in moving to the ACC" after UM announced its departure. However, sources said that UL "outmaneuvered the perceived early favorite, Connecticut, in large part because of the school's overall athletic commitment, the health of its football program and the issues Jim Calhoun left behind in the Huskies' basketball program." Cincinnati "also made a spirited 11th-hour push." Forde notes the "biggest stumbling block" UL had to overcome was its "modest institutional standing." However, sources said that the conference "is comfortable with Louisville because the ACC is too strong academically to have its reputation significantly altered by one new member" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/28). SI.com's Pete Thamel cites a source as saying that a "big reason that the ACC moved so quickly to add Louisville was that the Big 12 was interested as well." Thamel: "The ACC's proactive move signals that there will be more significant change on the college sports landscape" (SI.com, 11/28).
FEISTY ON THE EXIT FEE: In DC, Svrluga & Prewitt report the ACC has sued UM, asking that the school "be forced to pay an exit fee" of more than $52M. In the suit, filed Monday in Greensboro, N.C., the ACC is "pursuing a declaratory judgment, essentially asking the court to impose the rules its members have established" as the conference alleges that UM President Wallace Loh "has questioned the validity of such an expensive penalty." ACC officials view the suit as "a show of solidarity among the conference's remaining members." Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany yesterday said that "his conference is not prepared to help Maryland financially extract itself from the ACC" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/28).
Tulane yesterday announced it will move from Conference USA to the Big East in '14, and Tulane President Scott Cowen said that the move is the "biggest moment for Green Wave athletics in the 14 years" he has held that position, according to a front-page piece by Tammy Nunez of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The first question posed to Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco in the national teleconference regarding the addition of Tulane was "what the Big East found attractive in a university with poor recent results in football and basketball and meager fan numbers." But Aresco was "upbeat and pointed to Tulane's potential." He said, "They are part of our big-market strategy. We have obviously many large markets in our conference and our basketball schools are all in large markets." Nunez reports Rutgers' move to the Big Ten earlier this month was the piece that "broke loose Tulane's opportunity." Tulane AD Rick Dickson: "We've tried to keep our pulse on all this movement. I said to Scott early last week when the reports about Rutgers (broke), I said now is the time." Cowen said, "I'm not concerned at all about the future of the Big East. ... We obviously checked that out before we joined to make sure they were stable. Might a school or two leave? That might happen in any conference as we saw recently with the ACC." Nunez notes the exit fee to leave Conference USA is "in the neighborhood of a reported $7 million." Aresco "refused to comment on whether the Big East would help pay" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 11/28). In New Orleans, Jeff Duncan writes the move is the "most significant transaction for the school's athletic program since that fateful day in 1966 when the school left the SEC." But whatever "iteration of the Big East survives will be decidedly better than where Tulane was or might have been" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 11/28).
PIRATES' BOUNTY: The Big East yesterday also announced East Carolina Univ. will join the league for football only beginning in '14. ECU AD Terry Holland said, "I don't think there is any doubt that the potential for revenue is an important piece of it. It shouldn't be a driving factor in college athletics, but it's a factor that we all have to be conscious of and make sure that we are stewards of those resources." Holland "stressed the change ... was a football decision." However, he and ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said that "finding a home for ECU's 18 other sports was a priority" (Greenville DAILY REFLECTOR, 11/28). In Raleigh, Caulton Tudor writes Big East TV money "will be considerably less than the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC but still more than ECU could have made as the primary bread winner in the diluted C-USA." And as much and as often as the Big East has "shunned ECU over the years, the league will benefit more from the Pirates' football presence than any of the other C-USA newcomers" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/28).
NOT EVERYONE ON BOARD? SPORTING NEWS' Mike DeCourcy reported the Big East's decision to add Tulane "was not unanimous." There was "dissension among the current members discussing the move, and it was vehement." How widespread it might have been "isn't certain, although it is hard to figure how anyone was convinced to vote in favor" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/27). Meanwhile, in Orlando, Matt Murschel writes while the Big Ten's plan to add Maryland and Rutgers "caused major ripples in the college landscape, news of the Big East's moves were met with more of an ... eh." When talking about "pure wow factor, both of these schools miss the mark." While conferences like the Big Ten and SEC are "making calculated moves to secure a brighter future for their leagues, the Big East appears to be making decisions based purely on survival" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/28). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Tulane? Really? In New Orleans? Come on, the Big East is dissolving. They're desperate" ("PTI," ESPN, 11/27).
Single-game tickets to see the Univ. of Notre Dame play in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7 in Miami "are being offered for $1,400 and higher on StubHub and other ticket websites," according to Margaret Fosmoe of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. If fans are "in the market for a suite at the game," there is one "available for $112,500 through the BCS official ticket exchange." The phones are "ringing off the wall and e-mailed requests are arriving fast and furious" this week in the Notre Dame athletic ticket office. The ticket office this week "received more than 5,000 e-mail inquiries about tickets in a 60-hour span." Ticket office employees "answered more than 2,500 phone calls on Monday." Notre Dame, which has a bowl ticket lottery, will "receive an allotment of 17,000 tickets to the game." The ticket office by yesterday morning "already had received applications for more than 40,000 tickets." There will be no sales to the general public "because of overwhelming demand." Notre Dame Senior Assistant AD/Guest Relations & Event Marketing Josh Berlo said, "There isn't a stadium big enough in the country to accommodate just the Notre Dame constituents that would like to attend" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 11/28).
WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD: In N.Y., Greg Bishop wrote this season "proved that when the Fighting Irish win, more casual fans watch, more interested parties buy and more companies sponsor." This "marked the highest average viewers for NBC’s Notre Dame home games since 2005 and its highest household rating" since '06. Horizon Media Senior VP/Research Brad Adgate said that the average audience for away games "rose by 51 percent." Fanatics.com on Nov. 18 had Notre Dame ranked "as the top-selling team for the year, the week and the day." Of the "yearly purchases, 93 percent were made outside Indiana -- all 50 states were represented -- and 23 percent were made by women." In Q1 sales figures from the Collegiate Licensing Company, "the Fighting Irish jumped from 10th to sixth." The "spoils of success will also extend beyond this season." IMG College, Notre Dame’s multimedia rights partner, said that the "university’s radio network had already secured about 50 commitments from sponsors for next season." That is "double the current number" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/24).
Univ. of Tulsa AD Ross Parmley was “suspended with pay” yesterday after the FBI “identified him as an ‘admitted gambler’ who was involved with Oklahoma City ‘bookie’ Teddy Mitchell,” according to Trammell & Clay of the OKLAHOMAN. Parmley “has worked for the university's athletics department” since ‘05. The university “placed Parmley on paid administrative leave.” Parmley has “not been charged” with a crime. A source said that Parmley “admitted to FBI agents he bet on college and professional football games for years before quitting gambling early in 2010.” He told the agents that he “used the Internet to make the bets.” The source said that Parmley “told FBI agents that he made payments to Mitchell on losses and collected from Mitchell on wins.” Parmley attorney Derek Chance said that Parmley was “never a target or subject of the gambling investigation but is cooperating with federal authorities.” The NCAA “opposes all forms of legal and illegal wagering on college sports.” It “claims sports wagering ‘threatens ... the integrity of the game.’” The NCAA said that its rules “prohibit athletics department employees ‘from wagering on intercollegiate, amateur and professional sports in which the association conducts championships’” (OKLAHOMAN, 11/28). In Tulsa, Bill Haisten reports Tulsa Exec VP & Treasurer Kevan Buck is “serving as the acting athletic director” (TULSA WORLD, 11/28).