ACC votes to add Louisville, sue Maryland over exit fee

So long Maryland, hello Louisville.

Presidents from the Atlantic Coast Conference barely allowed the ink to dry Maryland’s exit papers for the Big Ten when they unanimously voted to add the University of Louisville for all sports starting in 2014.

Louisville is the No. 1 college basketball television market in the country and operates with an annual athletic budget that is more than $25 million greater than Maryland’s last reported fiscal athletic expenditures of $57.35 million.

The Cardinals also have an improved product on the football field under coach Charlie Strong, who has a 23-14 record in two seasons before Louisville plays for a BCS bid at Rutgers on Thursday night. Maryland is 15 games under .500 in the past four seasons.

Well-known basketball coach Rick Pitino and the traditional power of his team brings instant cachet to a conference that will also bring in Jim Boeheim and Syracuse next season.

Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported Wednesday that the ACC moved quickly on its 7 a.m. conference call to add Louisville because the Big 12 and likely others were ready to add the Cardinals to their conference.

The Big 12 remains at 10 schools, the only BCS conference under 12 institutions for major sports. The Big Ten expanded to 14 last week when it welcomed Maryland and Rutgers.

The ACC has sued Maryland for the full $52.3 million exit fee for its Big Ten move, according to multiple reports.

In a 10-page lawsuit, the conference seeks $52,266,342.

Commissioner John Swofford said in statement that the ACC’s council of presidents decided unanimously “to file legal action to ensure enforcement of this obligation.”

“We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation,” he said.

The league’s exit fee was raised to $50 million in September after Notre Dame joined in all non-football sports. Maryland and Florida State were the only two schools to vote against the increase.

Maryland President Wallace D. Loh told The Washington Post that he voted against the increase associated with Notre Dame because he believed the higher fee was “illegal and philosophically not a good idea.”

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