CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The University of Notre Dame has announced its decision to leave the Big East in favor of the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football where it will maintain its independent stature.
During a press conference in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Wednesday, the school’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, and athletic director Jack Swarbrick joined ACC commissioner John Swofford in discussing the move from the Big East to the ACC.
“I don’t think there’s out there a better situation than the situation we have,” Jenkins said. “The ACC has allowed us to retain a tradition that’s so central to our identity in football while we’re joining a conference that athletically as well as academically fits Notre Dame perfectly.”
The Fighting Irish moving to the ACC means that Swofford made an exception to his all-or-nothing requirement for schools to be full members to procure Notre Dame.
“I think it just came through in our internal discussions that now’s the time,” Swofford said. “This is a partnership that is a win-win and good for both parties. The time had come to cross that threshold.”
Although they will remain independent in football, the Fighting Irish will play five games annually against ACC schools. In return, Notre Dame will have access to the Orange Bowl and the ACC’s non-BCS bowl tie-ins. The Fighting Irish have played in the Sun Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl over the past two seasons under coach Brian Kelly.
“This is a real positive for the ACC. It is a compliment to our league that a school of Notre Dame’s stature, a school that had so many choices, selected the ACC,” said Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “From a football standpoint, playing five games against ACC teams is a positive. It enhances the league’s exposure every time you play Notre Dame. You can see where it helps Notre Dame football as well when it comes to bowl opportunities and scheduling. There are no negatives in this.”
The transition from the Big East to the ACC is not expected to take place until approximately 2014 but when it does, revenues from the ACC television deal with ESPN are likely to increase to as much as $18 million per school.
Adding the Fighting Irish to the program is clearly a step in the right direction for the ACC and Swofford’s forward thinking will pay dividends. Having procured Pittsburgh and Syracuse, now completing the deal with Notre Dame, Swofford says the ACC is done with its expansion … for now.