“This is the best athletic conference in the country and we will only make it better,” Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., with ACC Commissioner John Swofford and the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president.
Swofford said the conference is not looking to add a 16th team because it would be “illogical” with the Fighting Irish not joining the ACC for football.
Notre Dame plans to start its ACC football rotation beginning with the 2014-15 season, when college football will implement a four-team playoff to decide the national championship, and join the conference for all other sports besides ice hockey in 2015-16.
On top of adding Notre Dame to the conference, ACC school presidents also voted to raise the conference’s exit fee from around $20 million to $50 million, a move that should solidify its membership going forward. But unlike the vote to add the Fighting Irish, that one was not unanimous. Allan Bense, chairman of the Florida State Board of Trustees, told WarChant.com that both Florida State and Maryland voted against the move to raise the exit fee, which needed affirmative votes from 9 of 12 ACC members for passage.
The Big East requires schools that wish to leave to provide 27 months notice, but that timetable could be expedited through a negotiated buyout. Syracuse and Pittsburgh, who will be joining the ACC in 2013-2014, did so earlier this year.
Swofford noted that the addition of Notre Dame has already prompted preliminary discussions with ESPN that could provide an “enhancement” to the league’s television contract. The ACC announced a 15-year, $3.6 billion extension with ESPN in May.
Notre Dame had been a partial member of the Big East since 1995 and is the fourth school to leave the conference in the past year. Last fall, Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced they would leave for the ACC and West Virginia departed for the Big 12. To compensate, the Big East recently added two football-only members (Boise State and San Diego State) as well as five others for all sports (Temple, Memphis, Houston, Central Florida and SMU). Those schools will join the conference next season.
Navy will also join the Big East as a football-only member in 2015, creating a 13-team football conference and a 17-team conference in other sports.
“Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East conference and we wish them success in the future,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “However, Notre Dame’s departure does not change our plans. We have prestigious institutions that are excited to be a part of the Big East.”