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Jim Williams: Louisville gets sales pitch right in move to ACC

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When Louisville lost out to West Virginia two years ago in the battle to join the Big 12, the Cardinals learned what they needed to improve on. When they were named the newest member of the ACC on Wednesday, beating out Connecticut and Cincinnati, it was clear Louisville had a winning sales pitch.

Louisville knew that the ACC wanted a complete package -- one that not only had a top-notch basketball program but was competitive in all sports. A good football program was a must for the ACC to keep Florida State and Clemson happy.

Under coach Charlie Strong, Louisville has built a solid football program with a 23-14 record over the past three years, heading into Thursday's game. They have a wonderful stadium that was expanded to 55,000 seats and became one of the few schools in the country to install all chair-back seating.

A major factor for Louisville getting into the ACC was their athletic budget, which as of the 2012 season was an estimated $84.4 million. The ACC's highest budget was Florida State at $81.4 million, with Maryland's budget at only $57.5 million.

Everyone knows Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. With the Cardinals, he has reached two Final Fours and two Elite Eights and has won 20 or more games in each of the past 10 seasons.

Louisville has averaged 21,503 fans per home game for men's basketball.

Looking at all sports, Louisville is the nation's only school that has reached both the men's and women's basketball Final Four, a BCS bowl game, the College World Series and the men's soccer College Cup in the last six years.

UConn football has regressed over the past two years, and the basketball program is in a state of flux since Jim Calhoun retired. Cincinnati did not have the overall quality of sports programs that Louisville did, so in the end it was passed over.

This time the sales pitch for Louisville was spot on, and the ACC was impressed.

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @wordmandc.

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