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Notre Dame moves to ACC

Matthew DeFranks | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Notre Dame will leave the Big East and join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in all sports except football and hockey, the University announced Wednesday. Notre Dame will remain independent in football.

“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,” Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a statement.

“The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “Our partnership with Notre Dame only strengthens this long-standing commitment. Notre Dame enhances the league’s unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope.

“This is a terrific milestone in the evolution of the ACC and showcases tremendous solidarity and vision by our Council of Presidents.”

The Big East has housed all Irish non-football and hockey sports for the past 17 years. Notre Dame has won 116 conference titles in the Big East, the most of any school since the Irish joined the conference in 1995.

The league requires a $5 million exit fee and 27 months notice in order leave the league. Syracuse and Pittsburgh, however, have paid higher exit fees to leave the conference early. They will both join the ACC in 2013.

The ACC has 12 current members – Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Boston College – stretching up and down the East Coast.

Swofford said the ACC will not look to add a 16th member for non-football sports. The league will remain at 14 teams and two divisions for football.

The ACC will also implement a new $50 million exit fee, effective immediately and coming after speculation that Florida State and Clemson could join the Big 12.

With the move, the Irish football program must play five ACC opponents each year. Notre Dame will play each school at least once every three years. This season, the Irish football schedule features three current ACC members (Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest) and one future ACC school (Pittsburgh). The 2013 football schedule will have feature one ACC school – Pittsburgh.

“We’re coming off a couple years where we play four ACC schools. We have two years scheduled in the future with four ACC teams. I’m not going to say there won’t be any schedule changes because there will,” Swarbrick said. “We’re going to keep traditional rivalries and go around the country.”

The move also allows the Irish to join the ACC’s non-BCS bowl tie-ins. Prior to this season, the Irish had limited bowl options after accepting an invitation to the Champs Sports Bowl last season. The ACC currently has seven bowl tie-ins.

Joining the ACC will not impact Notre Dame’s relationship with NBC Sports, as the Irish will retain all revenue from home football games. Notre Dame’s football contract with NBC expires in 2015. In other sports, including basketball, Notre Dame will split the revenue as an equal member.

The Irish men’s basketball program will join a league that contains perennial powers Duke and North Carolina and will add old Big East rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh.

“The opportunity to go to the Big East is a great, exciting challenge,” Irish coach Mike Brey said. “I’m an ACC guy at heart. Being down [in North Carolina today] with Jack and Fr. John on Tobacco Road brought back a lot of memories.