I’m not even six months into my reign as the "Biggest Fan of the Big East" conference … and it looks like my conference alignments are already changing.
This morning the University of Notre Dame and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced that Notre Dame will be the 15th member of their league.
The Irish will compete as full members of the ACC in all sports, with the one exception being football. Notre Dame football, as part of the deal, will play five games annually against ACC opponents.
"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity," said the ACC Council of Presidents in a joint statement. "The addition of Notre Dame further strengthens the rich tradition and culture of the ACC as well as allowing for future academic collaboration and we enthusiastically welcome them into the league."
Notre Dame had the following response this morning. "The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," said Notre Dame president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."
The exact timeline for Notre Dame’s entrance into the conference is not set in stone yet. Big East Conference bylaws state a program must wait 27 months between announcing a departure and actually leaving. However, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, TCU and West Virginia have all left or will leave the Big East before that waiting period, which may influence Notre Dame’s time table.
One other notable tidbit in the ND/ACC press release … "In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million."
Whoa … that's quite a stiff penalty. I guess Clemson, Florida State and Miami may be staying put after all.
The move to the ACC seems to be a good one for the Fighting Irish. Football will benefit by playing the likes of Florida State University, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia Tech and long time foe Boston College. Basketball will also benefit by adding Duke and the University of Notre Carolina as conference foes, as well as familiar (former Big East) names such as Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
There are already rumors that Purdue, the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University will no longer play Notre Dame in football with the new conference alignment, which would be quite a shame. I guess only time will tell how this will truly shake out.
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