NEW YORK (AP) — Louisville has agreed to pay the American Athletic Conference an $11 million exit fee so the Cardinals can join the Atlantic Coast Conference next year, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Louisville announced last year that it planned to leave what was then called the Big East and join the ACC. Conference bylaws for the American require members to give more than two years’ notice and pay a $10 million exit fee.
The conference announced that its members had voted to terminate Louisville’s membership on July 1, 2014. The person familiar with the situation says the school agreed to pay the conference an extra $1 million after amicable negotiations between American Commissioner Mike Aresco and Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial terms were not disclosed.
“I have great respect and admiration for Tom and for the manner in which Louisville conducted itself in our negotiations,” Aresco said in a statement. “We wish Louisville the best and appreciate what they have meant to our conference.”
Louisville has already paid $5 million to the American that will count toward the $11 and has agreed to pay the rest from 2014-17.
“I’m glad to have been able to work face-to-face with Mike Aresco to reach a fair settlement for us to depart the league a year early,” Jurich said. “All of us at the University of Louisville appreciate what the former Big East and American Athletic Conference have done for us and I see greatness ahead for the league under Mike’s leadership.”
Still left for the American is to finalize Rutgers’ departure for the Big Ten. That will be more complicated because Rutgers has challenged the exit fee in a lawsuit. The school is preparing to be in the Big Ten next season, and its new conference has already included the Scarlet Knights in its schedules.
The conference is also in a legal fight with Boise State over exit fees. Boise State pledged to join the Big East back in 2011, but backed out after Rutgers and Louisville decided to leave.
The American Athletic Conference is in its first season after negotiating a deal to relinquish the name Big East to the conference’s non-FBS football members in exchange for more than $100 million.
Next season Tulane, East Carolina and Tulsa join the American Athletic Conference, and Navy will join as a football member in 2015.