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The ACC has unanimously voted to accept the Univ. of Notre Dame as a new member. The school will compete as a full member in all conference-sponsored sports except for football, though Notre Dame will play five games annually against league programs. The conference today also voted to increase exit fees for schools to three times the ACC's annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50M. The Notre Dame hockey team is expected to continue with a planned move to Hockey East, as the ACC does not sponsor the sport (THE DAILY). The SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE notes Notre Dame as part of the deal will play each ACC team "at least once every three years” in football. Notre Dame also will be “a part of the ACC's non-BCS bowl package.” Notre Dame has been a member of the Big East for all non-football sports since '95. The move to the ACC “won't affect Notre Dame's longstanding partnership with NBC Sports.” Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said the change in affiliation is "essentially revenue-neutral." Swarbrick: "Financial implications were not a motivation." He added that the school will “work with the Big East and ACC on a timetable to transfer athletic membership” (SOUTHBENDTRIBUNE.com, 9/12). In Chicago, Brian Hamilton cites a source as saying that Notre Dame "hopes to join the ACC for the 2013-14 season." However, contract obstacles "related to the Big East departure will determine if that becomes reality." A source said that there are "separate agreements in place for Big East football and non-football schools ... that must be squared with the league's bylaws." Hamilton notes Big East bylaws require a "27-month notice from departing schools, but Notre Dame could negotiate an earlier exit for a fee -- as Syracuse and Pittsburgh both did earlier this year for their moves to the ACC" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/12).
STILL THE GOLDEN GOOSE: ESPN's Brett McMurphy notes every major conference with the possible exception of the Pac-12 has "been after Notre Dame ... because they are the Holy Grail, the Golden Goose” of college sports. The Big 12 had been actively “courting Notre Dame for a couple of years.” McMurphy: “This is huge for the ACC because they’re getting everything that Notre Dame brings to a conference, and then obviously the added benefit of having five annual games against Notre Dame football.” Notre Dame is still “very relevant” in college sports, which is “why it’s such a huge deal for the ACC.” ESPN's Mike Golic, a Notre Dame alum, said he believes a lot of the motivation behind the move is "about the other sports, not so much about football.” When asked why school officials are not interested in joining the Big Ten instead due to Notre Dame's proximity to other schools in that conference, Golic said, “They want their independence in football and the Big Ten will not take them without football”("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 9/12). Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick said, "I’m curious though, what happened to the Big Ten here? How do you whiff on Notre Dame? It seemed like that was a foregone conclusion" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 9/12). Meanwhile, SI.com’s Pete Thamel writes the move “may cost the Irish some traditional opponents in football.” A Notre Dame official said that the school's “top priorities in football scheduling moving forward will be to retain a West Coast presence -- games against USC and Stanford -- and the annual game with Navy.” That means Notre Dame's games against some of its Midwest opponents “could be in danger” (SI.com, 9/12).
A COUP FOR THE ACC: ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said this is a "huge day” for the ACC. With Notre Dame playing five games annually against ACC teams, fans can "start to think about some of the matchups in the ACC and what this can do for their image and to try to create more of a buzz about that conference” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/12). Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde writes on his Twitter account, “If move was inevitable (and it was), ACC a better fit than B12 for ND. Wake, Duke, BC, UVa, Miami more in line academically w ND than B12.” CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman writes, “To those folks who keep trying to say Notre Dame isn't relevant any more, good luck sifting thru your timeline this AM.” The La Crosse Tribune‘s John Casper Jr. writes, “What was that about Notre Dame being irrelevant again?" (TWITTER.com, 9/12).
BLOW TO THE BIG EAST: ESPN's Andy Katz notes the loss of Notre Dame is “another significant hit” for the Big East and “it comes at a time when the negotiating window is open for the Big East to get their television contract." Katz: "Now you lose another brand name." Herbstreit said Notre Dame leaving for the ACC is “just another blow to Big East and their reputation of trying to maintain relevancy.” The conference has "kind of been teetering here for the last few years with realignment and who has decided to leave" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 9/12). ESPN's Mike Greenberg: “From a football standpoint, the Big East has been completely demolished” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 9/12). SI's Seth Davis writes on his Twitter feed, “Rough beginning for new Big East commish and my former CBS colleague Mike Aresco. Not that there was anything he could have done about it.” CBSSports.com’s Bryan Fischer writes, “Welcome to the job Mike Aresco. Yikes.” The Newark Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty writes, “This is also likely to weaken Big East's TV negotiating hand, I'd imagine. You'd have to think RU, Louisville and UConn will look for exits” (TWITTER.com, 9/12).
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: Aresco prior to the announcement of Notre Dame's move discussed the challenge of maintaining the Big East's current membership. Appearing on last night's episode of CBS Sports Network's "The Tony Barnhart Show," Aresco said, “We want to make our schools feel as though this conference has a bright future, and I feel it does. ... I as commissioner set the tone that I convey that we are a new, reinvented conference. We’re bigger and better than ever in football and we’re incredibly strong in basketball. We’ve got a group of schools ... who not only want to stay together, but realize there is great value in staying together. I’m optimistic about that situation” ("The Tony Barnhart Show," CBS Sports Network, 9/11).
ADDED STABILITY: CBSSPORTS.com’s Chip Patterson writes the ACC increasing the exit fee to more than $50M is “perhaps a bigger development for the stability of the ACC” than the addition of Notre Dame. The “significant bump ... further displays a commitment from the current ACC members.” With every wave of conference realignment, ACC football powers like Florida State and Clemson “are rumored targets for possible Big 12 expansion.” With the addition of Notre Dame and the "increase of the exit fees, the ACC appears to be more stable than ever” (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/12).
The Pac-12 Conference and the Pac-12 Networks are “well-situated to establish a foothold in China, broadcasting games and selling merchandise to an enormous, sports-hungry market,” according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. While the Pac-12 “simply cannot match rivals such as the Southeastern and Big Ten when it comes to rabid fans,” but with schools “dotted along the Pacific Rim, it can pursue a different sort of consumer." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said the Pac-12 is in position to share the market if only because "you cannot ignore geography." Wharton noted thousands of Chinese students “attend Pac-12 universities, so people in the Far East are familiar with the schools.” The UCLA men’s basketball team’s recent exhibition tour in China “represented a trial run in what could become an annual exchange between the Pac-12 and the Federation of University Sports of China (FUSC), with teams crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean.” But basketball is “only part of the potential collaboration.” The conference -- “strong in Olympic sports -- might find an audience for volleyball, water polo and gymnastics.” If deals “can be negotiated with Chinese television, the Pac-12 has a wealth of broadcast content to send abroad.” As part of a “so-called globalization initiative, the conference hired Shanghai native Carrie Xu to help with marketing.” Sources said that the NBA and others have “discovered that doing business in China can be difficult, and the league has not enjoyed the quick success it initially envisioned.” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, "When you're thinking in terms of China, you have to think long-term" (L.A. TIMES, 9/11).