Notre Dame to join ACC as partial member
Posted September 12, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — For the second time in less than a year, the Atlantic Coast Conference is expanding.
The league announced Wednesday that Notre Dame will join the league as a partial member. The Irish will compete as full members in all conference sports with the exception of football which will play five games annually against league programs.
The decision was unanimously approved by the ACC Council of Presidents.
"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletic and integrity," the council of presidents said 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."
"The University of Notre is extraordinarily proud to join this great athletic conference composed of such outstanding institutions of higher education," said Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins. "Notre Dame is fully committed to enhancing the ACC and its member institutions."
As it stands Notre Dame's move to the ACC would become official for the 2015-16 season but Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said they will look into accelerating that. The ACC is already scheduled to add Pittsburgh and Syracuse in the summer of 2013.
Swarbrick said Notre Dame is on pace to begin playing five ACC teams in the 2014 season. Notre Dame will provide open dates on its schedule, and the conference will choose which teams will fill those slots. Swarbrick also said that ACC opponents could be part of special games such as the Shamrock Series in Chicago or Notre Dame's season-opener in Ireland.
“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."
"We are delighted to welcome Notre Dame to the ACC," Duke president Richard H. Brodhead said. "Notre Dame's excellence in academics, strong traditions in athletics, and international recognition make them a wonderful new conference colleague. We look forward to the competition on the playing fields and courts, and further collaboration on the campus."
Swarbrick said he began discussing the move with Swofford during the BCS resolution conferences. The two began having more serious conversations about the possibility beginning in the third week of July.
"We have been very deliberate about it. We thought there were several criticial dynamics here, and the biggest one is what the BCS resolution would be," he said. "We worked pretty consistently on it from the time of the BCS resolution until today.”
Swarbrick said that moving to the ACC as a partial member is the best course of action for the Irish.
"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," Swarbick said. "This is moving to something great, not away from something."
Notre Dame will keep money from their football and hockey television contracts and get a share of the ACC's non-football TV revenue. As ACC football revenue is 80% of their total deal, basketball/Olympic is 20%, Notre Dame will get a 15th of the 20 percent.
In addition to adding Notre Dame, the council voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget, which would currently mean an exit fee of over $50 million. The change in exit fees go into effect immediately.
On September 18, 2011 the presidents of the ACC announced the addition of Big East members Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The additions will expand the current 12-team ACC conference to 14. With Notre Dame's addition in basketball the ACC tournament will expand to three Wednesday games and the top four seeded teams will earn a bye.
“Today is a great day for the University of Notre Dame and our athletics department, including the football program," said Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly. "Speaking strictly from a football standpoint, we have further solidified our future as an independent in college football, maintained our unique ability to schedule nationally and greatly improved our postseason bowl game options. I applaud Father Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick for this move. They have set our entire athletics department up for great success in the future.”
"There is no need to add a 16th team to the league and there is no intention in doing so," said Swofford Wednesday. "In football we'll be 14 with two even divisions, if we brought a 16th team in that causes an imbalance in basketball."
Fans of local ACC teams have mixed feelings on Notre Dame's addition. While the program brings a national market to the conference, some question how the Indiana school fits into the Atlantic Coast portion of the conference title.
"It’s time to scale back, kick Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse out. Keep it down in the south," N.C. State fan Alex White said.
Duke fan Kathleen Fraile thought differently.
"I know they’re big on school spirit, and so are we, so it will be good to play them and see how the game environment is," she said.