The University of Louisville's glorious eight-season membership in the Big East Conference came to an inglorious end on Thursday with an unexpected early exit by the baseball team from the Big East Baseball Tournament in Clearwater, Florida. During that eight-year period Louisville not only dominated Big East athletics, but established itself as one of the premier college sports programs in the country.
Wasting no time after entering the conference in 2005, the Cardinals won or tied for five championships in its first year: women's volleyball, men's tennis, women's golf, softball and football.
Over the next seven years the UofL program would win or tie the regular season or tournament championship 52 times for a total of 57 trophies now sitting in UofL trophy cases.
The 57 titles won by Louisville were mostly at the expense of Notre Dame who had dominated Olympic sports until the Cards arrived. UofL still trailed the Irish who won 76 titles during the eight-year span that the Cards competed in the Big East.
Louisville was slow to make a major imprint on the league winning only five championships the first three years. But in the following seasons they won 9, 7, 8, 10 and 8 staying nearly even with Notre Dame the last five years. During that time they were the only Big East school to play in the College World Series.
Volleyball was the most dominant sport for the Cards as they won a league or tournament championship every season they were in the league. In the final season they won both the league and the tournament for nine total championships.
The University of Louisville received much more than a truckload of trophies during it's tenure in the Big East. The league was in the middle of the United States media center and the Cards received much-needed publicity that helped to elevate its athletic program not only in reality but in perception also.
Being in a BCS automatic qualifying conference allowed Louisville to play in two BCS Bowls (winning both) and play in warm weather bowl games. Louisville's men won two basketball tournaments in Madison Square Garden with major media coverage.
Louisville will certainly miss the Big East Conference and all it has done for UofL athletics. Forgive my bad theology reference, but this season's stint in the American Athletic Conference will be like purgatory waiting to get into heaven (the ACC).
Below are the sports and the number of championships:
Volleyball - 9
Baseball - 6
Women's Outdoor Track & Field - 5
Men's Basketball - 5
Men's Tennis - 4
Women's Golf - 4
Men's Soccer - 4
Football - 3
Field Hockey - 3
Men's Swimming & Diving - 3
Men's Golf - 2
Women's Swimming & Diving - 2
Men's Outdoor Track & Field - 1
Men's Cross Country - 1
Women's Soccer - 1
Women's Indoor Track & Field - 1