Thursday, November 29, 2012 11:57 AM
Wilkins applauds addition of Louisville to ACC
by David Hood
Senior Writer

CLEMSON – Board of Trustees Chairman David Wilkins thinks that the addition of Louisville to the Atlantic Coast Conference was the best the conference could have made in the wake of losing Maryland just over a week ago.

Maryland announced its intentions to leave the ACC for the Big 10 early last week, and the ACC moved in what Wilkins called “decisive” action in adding Louisville this week.

“There is no question, in my opinion, that it was a great move,” Wilkins told TigerNet. “It was a good move by the ACC and I think it was certainly decisive it showed good leadership. The ACC went out and got the best school available, a school with very strong athletic programs.”

The Cardinals are 9-2 in football this season under head coach Charlie Strong, but started 9-0 and had vaulted themselves into BCS talk. They play tonight at Rutgers, another school that is leaving the Big East for the Big 10. In basketball, Louisville is ranked 5th in the AP Poll and 6th in the Coaches Poll under head coach Rick Pitino, and Wilkins said it was that kind of strength that drew the ACC.

“They have very strong football and basketball programs,” he said. “Overall, all of their athletic programs are excellent, and it is a good new market for us. I think it is a strong, and I think it was the right thing for the ACC to do.”

Wilkins also said the addition of Louisville doesn’t hurt the conference from an academic standpoint.

“I think people have varying opinions on that, but the academics in the ACC are strong with Duke, Virginia and Clemson,” he said. “We are very strong, and we didn’t weaken ourselves at all. We are strong and will remain strong, and adding Louisville increased our football and basketball prowess.”

Maryland’s hasty departure led to speculation that the ACC – which added Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the last year – was less than stable. Wilkins said that the opposite of that is true, and cited the $53 million buyout.

“Maryland leaves and they are replaced in a very short time with Louisville,” he said. “It shows good leadership by the ACC. And once Maryland is forced to pay that $53 million, people won’t question that any longer. I think making them pay is the right thing to do – an agreement is an agreement and it should be enforced. The ACC has already filed suit and I applaud their efforts.”

Wilkins also credited James Barker for helping get Louisville into the league.

“You have to give Jim Barker a lot of credit in this,” he said. “I thought it was the right move. People knew they had strong football and basketball programs, and people listen to Jim Barker. He has a lot of respect around the league, and he had a lot to do with getting Louisville and Notre Dame.”

David Hood can be reached at davidhood@tigernet.com