(Photo of Vince Tyra via University of Louisville Athletics)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In just a few short days, the college athletics world has turned completely on its head, and conference realignment is back in full swing.
On Monday, Texas and Oklahoma officially informed the Big 12 that they would "not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025". The next day, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey announced that the two universities had "submitted formal requests for invitations to become members" of the conference.
Ever since last Wednesday when the Houston Chronicle first reported Texas and Oklahoma's interest in bolting for the SEC, conference realignment talks have run rampant. Will the Big 12 collapse? What will happen to their remaining eight members? Could other conferences poach them? How will this indirectly effect the rest of college athletics?
The University of Louisville is no stranger to the subject of conference realignment. During the last major shakeup in the early 2010's, the Cardinals found themselves in the old Big East, the American, and finally their current home - the ACC.
With the landscape of college athletics due for a major shift of power, one can't help but pose the question if Louisville could find themselves as collateral damage once again. But this time around, Louisville Vice President and Athletic Director Vince Tyra believes the university's long term future remains with the ACC.
"They brought us into the Power Five, it's been a good fit for us in a lot of ways, and I don't really see that changing," Tyra said Tuesday. "It'd have to be something at conference level, not an individual university level."
Not only is Tyra optimistic about Louisville's future within the ACC, he also believes all of its members will be able to stick together through the latest round of conference realignment. He attributes this to the level of trust they have built up with one another.
"It's a strong group," Tyra said. "One thing I say is, it's a very close knit group. We have AD's who have come from other conferences who are Power Five, who have commented that this group is really tight. They really enjoy that. I think with that, comes a lot of trust to have those conversations."
That being said, Tyra admits that the ACC would be doing themselves a disservice if they did not mull over potential growth and contemplate their long term standing in college athletics. He specifically mentioned the "financial gap in the media rights value", referencing the league's current television contract, which lags significantly behind the rest of the Power Five.
"I think the ACC, like every other conference, has been sorting out who's the best fit, do you grow and how you grow," he said.
Growth could be coming sooner rather than later. During ACC Media Days last week, commissioner Jim Phillips continued to push for Notre Dame to join the league as a full time member. Amid the Big 12's now rocky future, The Athletic reported that West Virginia's preferred destination is the ACC should they switch conference's again. They also reported that Cincinnati has been "proactive and assertive in regards to realignment" since the Texas and Oklahoma news broke.
A lot could happen in regards to ACC expansion, then again, nothing could happen at all. While Tyra believes Louisville is secure in their league standing, he also thinks this round of conference realignment in only just beginning.
"It's not a done product, and I think we'll just have to watch and see how it evolves over the next number of months," he said.
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