LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After a day of increasing activity, the University of Louisville could be poised to be the subject of an historic Atlantic Coast Conference vote this morning.
The ACC Sports Journal reported late Tuesday night that the league's presidents were set to hold a conference call at 7 a.m. Wednesday, with U of L likely to be the only school voted on for membership. League bylaws state that to receive an invitation, a school must receive 75 percent of the league's votes. With only 11 full-time members (not counting the departing Maryland), U of L could be faced with needing to receive nine of 11 votes.
ESPN writer Brett McMurphy cited an industry source as telling the network that U of L is expected to be voted into the league.
An ACC source told writer David Glenn, "Given the way the conversations have gone to this point, either Louisville will be approved for an invitation or nobody will be approved for an invitation. Any other result would be a major surprise."
David Teel, sports columnist for The Daily Press of Hampton Roads, Va., also confirmed the morning vote. The ACC itself has not confirmed the reports.
Neither U of L athletic director Tom Jurich nor other school officials could not be reached to confirm or deny knowledge of such a vote late Tuesday night. Earlier in the evening, one U of L source said of the ACC, "I expect something to happen very soon, but whether it's us or Connecticut, or both, I don't know."
The ACC Sports Journal report quickly spread online, and then to ESPN's SportsCenter, where in a telephone report from Bloomington, Ind., Andy Katz reported that ACC athletic directors had handed the realignment process over to university presidents, and that a vote was expected soon.
Katz, who reported earlier Tuesday that both North Carolina and Virginia had reaffirmed their commitment to the ACC, quoted North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham as saying, "I don't know which way it's going to go," but that the AD sensed that the league's preference right now was to only add one team.
The ACC is the only conference mentioned by a U of L administrator by name as a prospective home. That happened last week in an interview with U of L president James Ramsey, who said when asked about that conference, "It would be a great conference for us, if we ever had that opportunity. It has great academic schools, great tradition and history going back to 1953. It's changing, has picked up, of course, some schools that were an integral part of the Big East. It's a wonderful conference."
U of L has been through such tight situations before, most notably a year ago, when West Virginia edged out U of L for a spot in the Big 12 Conference, a negotiation that wound up involving Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell and both U.S. Senators from West Virginia.
To illustrate the stakes involved, McConnell told WDRB Sports in an interview in August: "We don't, at the end of the day, want to have a major league program in a Triple-A league, and I don't know where we go from here, but I think, to coin a phrase somebody else used, if you build it they will come, and I think Tom has built it -- by any measure you use."
"Look at the success in the non-revenue sports, and of course the money to provide for the non-revenue sports comes from the revenue sports, and now he's got the football program, which seems to be the biggest money-driver of all this, headed in the right direction. We have every chance, with Teddy Bridgewater, to have a real marquee kind of season. So hopefully, we'll be in the right place at the end of the day."
Tuesday afternoon, Massachusetts-based veteran sportswriter Mark Blaudschun reported that U of L likely was to come up one vote short for ACC membership, and the question remained in doubt through the night.
And Katz said that while Louisville appears to be the main school under consideration, both Connecticut and Cincinnati are making a hard last-minute push.
UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, responding to the report of an expected vote on Louisville, told Jeff Jacobs of The Hartford Courant, "I think we are the best choice by far, but I am biased."
Katz said Cincinnati was making perhaps the hardest push of all, noting that it has a larger TV market than Louisville, and that both UConn and Cincinnati were highlighting their academic credentials to the ACC, which includes many institutions that are more selective and academically elite than U of L has been.
"Each of these schools wants to get ahead of the other," Katz said. "They all want to get out of the Big East. . . . UConn and Cincinnati are making the case that they're much better academic institutions."
U of L has not drawn interest from the ACC in past rounds of realignment, but with Maryland bolting for the Big Ten and the league worried about its own stability, more members are open to the commitment U of L has made in athletics, and its potential in football.
"Overall their sports programs are all on a high right now," Katz said of U of L. "In football Louisville has performed very well over the past two seasons. In basketball, they were in the Final Four last season and are a top 5 program again this season. And their support, their dollars, the KFC Yum! Center, they've actually really poured tons of money into their athletic department and tried to make it as solvent as possible and (to let others) know that they can support a major athletic program. That's the sell for Louisville.
"For UConn, obviously it's within the region, where you have Syracuse and Pitt and, most recently, Notre Dame. And for Cincinnati, you have the state of Ohio, fertile recruiting ground for football, and new ground and new state for the ACC."
Stay with WDRB.com for more conference realignment developments as they happen.