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Move to ACC might be next year for Notre Dame

Mar 6, 2013, 7:50 PM EDT

Jack Swarbrick

As the Big East conference continues to twist and turn, it appears that Notre Dame’s exit to the ACC might come sooner than expected. Two reports this week fill in some of the rather interesting blanks for Notre Dame fans wondering how athletic director Jack Swarbrick will maneuver his way through another set of murky waters.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that the ACC would accept Notre Dame as early as this summer, paving the way for all sports except for football to become full conference members. His report cites the fate of the Big East’s seven Catholic schools as the lynchpin for the deal.

This from McMurphy:

Notre Dame intended to stay in the Big East through the 2013-14 season as long as the league’s seven Catholic basketball schools remained. But those schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova — are expected to announce in the coming days they are leaving the Big East to begin their own league on July 1.

Notre Dame officials have indicated previously that the Irish would seek an earlier exit from the Big East if the Catholic 7 schools departed before 2014. Notre Dame announced last year it was joining the ACC in all sports, except football.

ACC commissioner John Swofford and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick have said there wasn’t a firm deadline in which Notre Dame would have to inform the ACC of its intention to join in 2013.

Writing for USA Today, Mark Blaudschun added some news that the framework is in place for the Catholic 7 to depart the Big East this summer.

After a weekend of talks and negotiations, the Big East Conference has put together a framework of an agreement allowing member schools known as the Catholic 7 to break away from the Big East by July and take the “Big East” name, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter was not to be discussed publicly.

The person said an agreement on the split could be announced Thursday and added that the Big East football schools expect to have a new conference name as well as a new site for the conference basketball tournament, which has been anchored in New York’s Madison Square Garden since 1983.

How Notre Dame extracts itself from the Big East, and whether or not it continues its relationship with the Catholic 7 still seems up in the air. Over the weekend, Swarbrick spoke with media and took a “wait and see” approach when discussing his stance on the Irish’s fate next year.

“We’re trying to assess it,” Swarbrick said. “We’re a little like you are right now. We’re trying to get information and figure it out. One of the challenges right now is I’m not even sure who I talk to.

“If this splits into two conferences, and one of the things they negotiate over is the Big East name, who has the Big East name? Who has the Notre Dame affiliation? Those are the very fundamental things that somebody has to figure out. The challenge for us is how long can we wait for people to figure that out?”

One thing that seems certain is that any supposed early exit fee doesn’t seem to be something Swarbrick is worried about. While McMurphy’s report mentions an exit fee without 27 months notice, Swarbrick seems to have already figured that out months ago.

“We don’t owe any withdrawal fee. Never have,” Swarbrick said in a Blue & Gold article three months ago. “It’s not in dispute. Never has been. The nature of that separate agreement provides that we don’t. It’s a different dynamic with us. We’re not trying to negotiate a withdrawal fee. There isn’t one.” 

With that sorted out, it seems that it’s just a matter of when the complete break-up of the Big East takes place. From there, we’ll know if Notre Dame starts next school year playing in the ACC, a solution that most at the school would happily accept.

  1. dudeacow - Mar 6, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    I want to stay in the Big East one more year. The basketball powerhouses are leaving, which means men’s bball has a good chance to win the conference before they head into the insanely loaded ACC. Also, I’m not sure if it affects the football schedule or not, but I don’t want it to change! The ACC is my least favorite major football conference, and I want to stay out of it as long as possible. I am not looking forward to ND playing the Georgia Techs, Virginia _s, and (especially) Boston Colleges of this world. At least they have Miami, FSU and Clemson.

    I was against this move from the start. I don’t like conference realignment at all, and even though we’re technically still Independent, we have a certain amount of ACC teams we have to play each year. I hope we perennially play Clemson/FSU/VT as to protect the strength of schedule. But this move means possibly cancelling our series with Northwestern and Texas! We’re gonna play Duke instead of Texas!

    • bernhtp - Mar 6, 2013 at 10:00 PM

      I doubt that the UTexas series gets canceled. That’s a big one that neither school wants to give up. My guess is that it will be first priority after 5 ACC, USC, Stanford and Navy. That leaves four spots for UTexas, MichSt, Purdue and the anyone else.

    • stedward - Mar 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      I don’t see why you have a problem playing BC or Georgia Tech in football. BC has so much in common and we already have history together. Georgia Tech is one of our top ten most played opponents with 34 games between us. Now Wake, Virginia, Duke, etc… I have no argument.

      • dudeacow - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        Okay, I’ll admit a major reason is because of the uniforms. I know it doesn’t matter that much, but BC, GT, UVA, and VT’s uniforms are TERRIBLE! Plus, BC almost always finds a way to make the games closer than they should be and Georgia Tech is… well, I’ve just always disliked Georgia Tech. I know I’m being trivial about the unis, but come on. We should have moved to the Pac 12 East.

      • stedward - Mar 7, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        I’ve seen a good analogy for why ND is going to the ACC and it seems to keep holding up. This ended up longer than I thought…

        ND is the last pretty girl that doesn’t have a date to the prom. She knows she could have fun alone and has in the past but is afraid the rules will change and she wont be able to go. So she needs a date but doesn’t really want a relationship. The popular boys only want to take their girlfriend to prom so they start going out with other girls. The Pac12, SEC and Big10 don’t need to wait around because there are plenty of other girls that will go with them. The Big 12 and ACC know that they may never have another chance at a girl like ND so they have to take a chance on going to the dance as just friends. Our parents like the ACC better because they have a lot of smaller private schools, so we take them to the prom. We know unless the ACC really impresses us, we are only going to spread our football legs for the Big10 or the Pac12.

  2. papadec - Mar 6, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    I have complete trust & faith in Jack Swarbrick to do what is in the best interest for ND athletics – ALL sports. I don’t believe there is an AD, at any institution, that has done a better job of coping with the conference changes than he has.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:37 AM

      couldn’t agree more

    • irish4006 - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      After the Charlie debacle (10 year extension, writing a bad contract and paying through the nose after subsequent firing), I was pretty skeptical after JS took over as AD (not a reflection of his abilities, just the bad taste in the mouth). He has done an outstanding job so far, not only with these re-alignment crap, but also with the BCS and playoff decisions. I also like the fact that he is not afraid to go against tradition to stay competitive – training table was one example, replacing grass on the field will be another (hopefully).

      Thank you, JS, for a job well done!

    • dudeacow - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      As I was saying before, I don’t like ND’s move to the ACC, but it doesn’t matter what I think. I do believe Swarbrick is the best AD, and I trust him completely.

  3. goirishgo - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    I am mourning the loss of Michigan from the football schedule. The ACC tie-in makes sense to me but keeping MSU on the schedule instead of UM does not.

    • bernhtp - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:57 AM

      Muck Fichigan! Michigan announced they were suspending the series before Swarbrick gave them the note that accelerated it.

      • runners00 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        And actually, the Notre Dame/Michigan State rivalry is a stronger rivalry — at least in terms of the number of games played — than the Notre Dame/Michigan rivalry. It consists of 75 games, including some absolute classics over the years.

        I’ll miss Michigan, for sure, because there were so many good and memorable games, but the ACC is where we’re at right now. It’s too bad that the Big East couldn’t develop into a football conference in a way that would have allowed us to remain independent in football and in the BE for all other sports.

        But as others have said, Swarbrick has been amazing through conference realignment. And he is wise to stay away from conferences that expect us to join in football and other sports. It’s too limiting at this stage.

    • stedward - Mar 7, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      I am holding out hope that the end of the series was just a formality in case we need to take a year off for flexibility in scheduling. That was a contract we could get out of so we did but I don’t see how we wouldn’t start a new one.

      • bernhtp - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        I expect the occasional home-away mini-series, but not the long continuous series we’ve had for the last few decades.

      • irish4006 - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:31 PM

        UM does not want it I think. A good out of conference game once in a while is a good thing, but playing ND every year at the beginning of the season, statistically, is a 50% probability that a playoff/championship hope will end before it even starts.

        Everyone else schedules cupcakes for “all” non-conference games 80-90% of the time, UM probably does not want to be the only major team in the country to play ND 1st/2nd week of the season.

        The same could be applied for USC, but PAC 12 probably needs an ND game more than Big 10 to show some strength of schedule. Also, there is the history, of course.

    • dudeacow - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      I actually prefer playing MSU than scUM, but it is sad. It’s one of the classic rivalries that started when Michigan actually taught Notre Dame football. Our first football game was played against Michigan, and we should continue playing them. Ah, another rivalry dead thanks to conference realignment.

  4. ctfivula - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Gunner is transferring

    • papadec - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      Yeah – there is a story to that effect at IrishSportsDaily. No mention of where to.

    • mtflsmitty - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      First response…What a shame.
      Second, let’s see if ISD has it right.
      Third, I never want to bash a kid for making his own choices. No temptation to do so here. But if he does transfer, he’s dug himself quite a hole. Either he goes a compete’s against other top talent for a starting job, which begs the question why not just stay in SB; or maybe he wants to be the King of The Dipshits (Gratuitous Breakfast Club reference) and have a sure starting spot for 2014.

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