It’s been no secret that Notre Dame was joining the Atlantic Coast Conference — eventually. However, in the ever-changing world of intercollegiate athletics, there is no time like the present to make seismic shifts in a program’s future.
With that in mind, the Fighting Irish leadership announced Tuesday that Notre Dame will be moving to the ACC later this year and begin competition with the new league in all sports aside from football and ice hockey this fall.
“From the time of our decision to join the ACC, we have stressed our commitment to ensuring that our departure was achieved in a collegial manner,” Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a release. “This agreement realizes that intention and we are very grateful to the members of the Big East and Commissioner Mike Aresco for helping to facilitate this orderly and timely transition.”
The timing of this move on Notre Dame’s part was expedited by the announcement last September by seven members of the Big East Conference, after which those schools (DePaul, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall and Georgetown) were dubbed the “Catholic 7,” announced that they would be leaving the league. Those schools came to an agreement with the Big East recently and will depart on July 1.
That would have left Notre Dame competing for one to two seasons with programs such as SMU, Temple and Central Florida, among others. The Irish leadership felt that was not a viable option and negotiated an exit from the Big East.
“This decision makes sense for the Big East,” Big East Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “In view of Notre Dame’s expressed desire to join the ACC on an earlier timetable, the Big East and Notre Dame were able to arrive at an acceptable resolution.”
While the vast majority of Notre Dame athletic teams will begin ACC play in 2013-14, the Irish football program remains independent. Beginning in 2014, Notre Dame will play five football games per season against ACC programs.
Notre Dame has been a member of the Big East Conference in most sports since 1995.
“The Big East can now focus fully on its future alignment and rebranding efforts,” Aresco said. “I want to thank the Notre Dame administration and Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick for their efforts in moving toward this orderly transition. Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East and we wish them well.”
The Notre Dame hockey team, now a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in the final season for that league, joins Hockey East starting in 2013-14.
Along with Notre Dame, the ACC will be adding other programs including Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville.
“Notre Dame is a great addition to the league,” Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell said. “We’re excited to have them. They’ve had a very successful basketball program and Mike Brey has done an excellent job there.”