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Virginia officials react to Notre Dame joining ACC

Virginia Coach Mike London lauded the ACC on Wednesday for adding Notre Dame and its national fanbase to the conference in all sports except football and hockey. He believes the league has been prudent in its expansion over the past decade, and the inclusion of the Fighting Irish adds another major-market team into the ACC mix.

But as a football coach, he couldn’t but think back to his days as an assistant at Boston College — an annual rival for the Fighting Irish -- and the experience of playing at Notre Dame Stadium.

“They have all of those historical artifacts — the Golden Dome and Knute Rockne and Touchdown Jesus,” London said. “Some schools have an atmosphere that is special to play in. There’s no doubt Notre Dame is one of those places. We also have a little history around here, so I’m sure their fans will enjoy coming to Charlottesville and visiting the university and experiencing what Virginia is all about.

“It will be a great rivalry. We might have to call it the Gene Corrigan Bowl,” he added, referencing the former ACC commissioner who also had stints as the athletic director at both Virginia and Notre Dame.

London wasn’t alone among Virginia officials excited about the ACC bringing Notre Dame into the fold, a widespread sentiment throughout the league as news broke Wednesday.

Athletic Director Craig Littlepage called Notre Dame and the ACC “a good mutual fit” given the evolving nature of conference realignment and college sports.

Virginia Coach Tony Bennett, meanwhile, was enamored with how Notre Dame’s inclusion in men’s basketball confirms that the ACC will re-assume its perch as the nation’s toughest conference in the nation.

“With the additions of Syracuse and Pitt, and now Notre Dame, this is going to be as powerful of a basketball conference as I can remember,” Bennett said.

Notre Dame also has prominent programs in lacrosse, tennis and soccer that should enhance the ACC’s profile. Here’s some more reaction from Virginia coaches, thanks to the school’s sports information department:

Dom Starsia, men’s lacrosse coach: “The announcement of Notre Dame joining the ACC is another exciting development in our sport. What a unique situation to have six of the very best programs in our sport now in the same conference! Our game continues to grow at every level and this is another definitive marker of that progress. These are heady times for the sport of men’s lacrosse.”

Brian O’Connor, baseball coach: “I’m personally very excited. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the University of Notre Dame. My nine years there were very special and were instrumental in my coaching career. It’s a fantastic institution and one that people want to be associated with. I’m thrilled and looking forward to taking a UVa team back to South Bend.”

George Gelnovatch, men’s soccer coach: “If I had to pick two or three teams from around the country to invite to our conference, and specifically for men’s soccer, Notre Dame would be one of them.”

Steve Swanson, women’s soccer coach: “We have established ourselves as the best women’s soccer conference in the nation and adding Notre Dame is only going to make us even better.”

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