Notre Dame to join ACC next season
Goodbye Madison Square Garden, Georgetown and Villanova. Hello
Greensboro Coliseum, North Carolina and Duke.
A year from now, Notre Dame men’s basketball team will be
preparing for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament instead of
its annual trip to New York, where the Irish are a frustrating 9-17
all-time in the Big East tournament and have never made it to the
league title game. The school announced Tuesday it is leaving the
fractured Big East a year sooner than originally anticipated for
the ACC in all sports except football and hockey.
The switch was approved in a vote by Big East university
presidents in the wake of a split announced last week of the
league’s football schools and seven other Catholic schools that
next season are forming their own basketball-focused conference
with the Big East name. The vote means Notre Dame coaches can move
forward with scheduling for the 2013-14 school year.
”It removes the uncertainty that made it hard for our coaches
and athletes, so we’re very happy to resolve that for them,”
athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a telephone interview.
The move means stability for all Notre Dame sports and has some
familiarity to Irish fans, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the
Irish in moving to the ACC next season and former Big East teams
Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech already part of the
If the Irish had opted to stay in the football-centric league,
they would have faced some not-so-familiar opponents in Memphis,
Central Florida, Houston, Tulane and SMU, along with returning
members Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, Louisville and
Rutgers. Louisville joins the ACC after next season, while Rutgers
joins the Big Ten.
If the Irish had chosen to align with the Catholic schools, they
would have faced DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton
Hall, Providence and Villanova. Butler, Xavier and Creighton have
been mentioned as potential members.
The ACC will provide some Notre Dame’s non-revenue sports with
more challenging opponents. North Carolina’s women’s soccer team
has won 21 national championships; four different men’s soccer
teams from the conference have won national championships in the
past six years; Virginia and Maryland played for the national title
in men’s lacrosse in 2011; and Duke has won four national
championships in golf in the past 11 years.
”It’s a better situation than the consequence of having the
Catholic 7 and the Big East split,” Swarbrick said.
The move comes six months after Notre Dame announced it was
opting to join the ACC in all sports except football and hockey.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said the move made sense for the
”The Big East can now focus fully on its future alignment and
rebranding efforts,” he said.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the league welcomed the
early arrival of the Irish, saying the additions of Syracuse and
Pitt this year and Louisville next year will make the league’s
basketball schedule ”brutal, which is a great thing for our league
Swarbrick said the decision to join the ACC early evolved over
time, saying Notre Dame had been in constant touch with the
At a news conference later, before the Big East women’s
basketball title game, he gave few details of the financial deal
that made Notre dame’s early exit possible.
”The easiest way for me to describe it is that the deal struck
by the Catholic 7 did provide a template that made a lot of sense
to follow,” he said. ”We’re a school that’s essentially the same.
Our participation in the league was under the same terms. Our
withdrawal under the mutual commitment agreement was the same, so
it made sense to follow their deal in form.”
As recently as last month it appeared Notre Dame would remain in
the Big East for one more season, with Swarbrick telling coaches to
proceed with scheduling for next season under the assumption the
Irish would be in the Big East for a 19th season. That was based on
the assumption the seven Catholic schools would not be able to form
their own league in time for next season.
Last week, Aresco said the seven Catholic schools were leaving
effective July 1 and taking the Big East name with them. A person
familiar with the negotiations last week told The Associated Press
the football members, which do not include Notre Dame, will receive
a payment of about $100 million from the conference and NCAA men’s
basketball tournament funds, with the bulk of the money going to
holdover members Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida.
Swarbrick said it was best for Notre Dame to join the ACC as
soon as possible.
”Once we made a decision like we made, everybody
psychologically moves on. You’re better off getting there,” he
The ACC has already announced a basketball scheduling model for
Notre Dame’s arrival. In October, the league said the men would
stay with an 18-game slate that would pair each team with two
scheduling partners that each team played twice a year. Notre
Dame’s scheduling partners are Boston College and Georgia Tech.
On the women’s side, the league is going back to a 16-game
schedule. Scheduling partners have yet to be determined.
The decision to join the ACC early had no impact on Notre Dame’s
commitment to play five games a year against ACC teams starting in
2014, when it also will have access to the league’s non-BCS bowl
tie-ins. For the 2013 season, Notre Dame has no bowl tie-ins,
meaning that if the Irish don’t earn a BCS berth and are bowl
eligible they will have to wait to see what bowls have unused spots
to see where they will play.
AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo and AP Sports Writers
Aaron Beard contributed to this report.