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Notre Dame to join ACC as football remains independent

Sep 12, 2012, 12:09 PM EDT

Jack Swarbrick

In a move that’s long been speculated about, but never seemed imminent, Notre Dame has officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football. After being a member of the Big East since 1995, the Irish will now negotiate their exit from the conference. Only hockey, which is joining the Hockey East conference after the 2012-13 season, will participate outside the conference.

“We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us,” Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “This will enable us 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.

“We are immensely grateful to the members of the Big East, which has been a wonderful home for us the past 17 years. We also think that the conference has a strong future under the leadership of its new commissioner, Mike Aresco.”

While the Irish football team will keep its treasured independence, Notre Dame has announced that they’ll play five games annually against ACC opponents in football. With the recent expansion of the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 conferences, this gives the Irish a scheduling base in a time where lining up future opponents is increasingly hard. While the Irish won’t be eligible to participate in the ACC conference championship game, they will have access to the ACC bowl games, while also keeping open the opportunity to play against an ACC team in a BCS bowl.

With the Big East adding football programs from all around the country — San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, UCF, Navy and Temple — to fortify its membership after losing Pitt and Syracuse, it seemed less and less like an institutional fit for Notre Dame. And while the Big 12 certainly courted the Irish and seemed willing to accept a similar deal to the one the ACC did, the geographical and academic considerations weighed too heavily in one direction.

“The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them,” Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins said. “With a mix of institutions – many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education – the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically.

“It is our hope that, over time, we will be able to explore the possibility of academic collaboration as well as athletic competition with these outstanding universities.”

For Notre Dame’s other sports, the move to the ACC is an unqualified upgrade. Basketball will enter one the traditional power-conferences in the sport, while sports like soccer and lacrosse will be forced to take a major step forward. The Irish baseball team, which has faltered after former head coach Paul Mainieri left to take over the LSU baseball program, will now play in one of the nation’s best conferences, hopefully a recruiting trump card for head coach Mik Aoki.

With a four-team playoff set to start after the current BCS structure expires, it appears Swarbrick has made his final move in the realignment era. Notre Dame won’t have a concrete set of ACC opponents, but will have future scheduling flexibility, needing to play each ACC school once every three years.

“This approach allows us to help promote ACC football while maintaining our traditional rivalries and a national schedule,” said Swarbrick.

The ACC is currently made up of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC on July 1, 2013.

  1. bblack55 - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    If Notre Dame wasn’t so irrelevant, this would have been a major story and all the news services would have been rushing to cover it. All the blogs would have hundreds of comments and……..What? Really? So maybe they are relevant?

  2. buckeyeluvn - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    And what has ND done since Holtz left? Lets see….Nothing! A coach that lied on his resume. Teehee!! The reason people care about the “move” is because its funny!!! ACC? Football to stay Independent?! Its just funny! Oh and by the way, the last time we played, which was a bowl game, we sent you guys home crying! With Kelly there I do hope he brings you guys back to the top. So you can stop living in the past. The rose bowl games and the BCS games we were embarrassed in, where was ND? Oh I remember, either at home or playing in the Sisters of Mercy’s annual fund raising bowl!

    • 9irish - Sep 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      What are you, like a fat 19 year old, living in your mom’s basement in Worthington? Let me spell this out for you, ND fired their coach because he DID lie on his resume…after he was hired for 5 days. OSU fired their coach after the freaking FBI and NCAA got involved in it. Where the hell is your argument? Why are you trying? Why the hell are you even on here?

      I love Ohio State, I’m from around there. People like you is what makes them look bad, and do bad things. Mudslinging is not good on here, junior.

  3. buckeyeluvn - Sep 14, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    I seem to have touched a nerve! Im not going to bash ND anymore. B1G Ten would’ve been a better decision including the football team

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