While never in any real doubt, Louisville’s path to a new conference has officially been cleared.
In a press release sent out Wednesday afternoon, the American Athletic Conference announced that it has reached an agreement with Louisville that will allow the school’s athletic programs to move to the ACC. The move will become official, as expected, on July 1, 2014.
“I am pleased to announce this agreement and pleased that Tom Jurich and I worked together in a spirit of friendship to complete it,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “I have great respect and admiration for Tom and for the manner in which Louisville conducted itself in our negotiations. We wish Louisville the best and appreciate what they have meant to our conference.”
Louisville will pay a total of $11 million to leave the AAC: a total of $5 million that had previously been paid in two separate payments along with $1.5 million per year 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,” UofL athletic director Tom 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.”
It was announced in late November of last year that Louisville would be leaving the then-Big East for the ACC. That move came a week after it was announced Rutgers was moving from the Big East to the Big Ten. An agreement on exit fees between those two sides has yet to be reached, although there’s little that will stop RU from joining its new conference in July of next year.
Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported this afternoon that, if Rutgers is permitted to leave the AAC for less than $11 million, Louisville “would receive that difference from the $11 million” they are expected to pay.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury