Louisville, KY) --- A phone call in 2012 and the 11-day frenzy that followed led to what University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich called the most important day in U of L history.
That day, Tuesday, marked the official beginning of U of L's membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and it may have never happened if Jurich hadn't called ACC commissioner John Swofford and planted the idea of the Cards playing in one of college sports' most powerful leagues.
"The most fruitful call I ever made," Jurich said. "We're not the biggest. We're not the best. But we're going to work our butts off."
When news broke in late 2012 that University of Maryland intended to leave the ACC and join the Big Ten Conference, Jurich offered U of L's merits to Swofford.
Swofford said the league was already aware of the dynamics around U of L, a school that's risen quickly in the ranks of college sports during Jurich's tenure as AD.
Under Jurich's guidance, the Cards moved through three conferences and gained national exposure through an anytime-anywhere attitude toward televising their team sports. The football team in particular played at odd hours or on odd days.
The men's basketball team had reached two Final Fours in the past seven years at that point, and the baseball team made the 2007 College World Series.
The success extended into the Olympic sports, and the school was investing in sports facilities, spending and operating like an elite sports program without an elite conference.
So once Jurich called Swofford, the commissioner and his league took 11 days to make their decision – a unanimous yes to adding U of L to the 61-year-old conference.
"(U of L) brings a dynamic city and a rabid, large fan base," Swofford said. "I know of no other collegiate athletic program that has progressed in the last 15 years as this one."
For U of L and its supporters, Tuesday felt like a party after a long build-up. There had been so much celebrating already, so much anticipation toward July 1, 2014, that the initial press conference had an even-keeled seriousness to it.