Louisville Receives Injunction in Dispute with Conference USA
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking Conference USA’s other 11 member schools from expelling the University of Louisville for opposing expansion.
On Monday, Conference USA commissioner Michael Slive was authorized by the conference’s board of directors to invite independents East Carolina and Army into the six-team football conference.
Louisville opposed the action, saying expansion of the league will affect future Cardinal schedules, said Ray Nystrand, Louisville’s special assistant to the president. Louisville is the only school that opposes football expansion in the conference, Nystrand said.
``This is not about East Carolina and Army,″ Nystrand said. ``They are fine institutions with strong academic and athletic programs.
``We want very much to continue as a member of Conference USA,″ Nystrand said. ``What we are asking is for the conference to be required to address these issues in the framework provided by the by-laws.″
Nystrand said Conference USA will make the next move in the dispute, possibly seeking to dissolve the restraining order before a board meeting on June 17.
Conference USA responded to the court action in a statement issued late Thursday.
``It is of utmost importance that the affairs of Conference USA be administered for the benefit of the conference as a whole,″ a statement from the conference said. ``Louisville has repeatedly opposed actions that, in the view of all the other conference members, are of substantial benefit to the conference as a whole and necessary to the continued success of the conference.″
The statement also said that league members specifically included a clause in the bylaws when the league was formed that allows ``a member to be removed without cause with a fair recognition of the financial interests of the institution being removed.″
Commissioner Slive said Louisville also disagreed with the rest of the conference on postseason competition and on basketball television issues, but didn’t elaborate.
Nystrand said the dispute has evolved into ``a serious disagreement″ but that a friendly compromise was still possible.
``We want to just sit down and talk all of this through and do our best to come to a mutual and amicable solution.″
The six teams _ Louisville, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, Southern Miss _ begin conference play this season.
Louisville joined the conference with the understanding that any football-playing member could veto the addition of more members, Nystrand said.
Nystrand said the presidents of the member schools introduced a motion Monday to expel Louisville after learning the school opposed the addition of the two teams. The vote on whether to expel Louisville was scheduled for next Monday.
The school filed the complaint Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, which ruled that ``the University of Louisville’s rights are or will be violated″ by a vote to expel. Judge Ellen Ewing issued the restraining order later.
``We’re sorry we had to take this step, but under the circumstances, it was the most appropriate thing to do,″ Nystrand said.
Nystrand said the school’s main concern is the expansion’s effect on its future schedules. The school has Penn State, Michigan State, North Carolina and Baylor on next season’s schedule, but an expanded conference could mean fewer opportunities to put strong, non-conference teams on the schedule, Nystrand said.