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

and fans.”

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.