SBD/March 13, 2013/Colleges

Notre Dame Set To Join ACC This Fall; Arranges To Avoid Big East Exit Fee

Notre Dame basketball enters the ACC alongside Pittsburgh and Syracuse
The Univ. of Notre Dame yesterday announced an agreement with the Big East to "quicken its defection" to the ACC in all sports except football and hockey beginning with the '13-14 school year, according to Zach Schonbrun of the N.Y. TIMES. The move “allows Notre Dame to enter the ACC at the same time as Syracuse and Pittsburgh, giving the conference 15 basketball teams for next season.” Notre Dame’s $2.5M exit fee reportedly “will be waived by the Big East because the university agreed not to seek any piece of the exit and entrance fee revenue accrued over the years.” Notre Dame originally “could not leave the conference without penalty before 2015, but it was widely expected that it would defect regardless” (NYTIMES.com, 3/12). In Chicago, Brian Hamilton wrote Notre Dame’s path to the ACC was "as expeditious and trouble-free as the school expected.” A source said that the school's separation deal is, "for all intents, under the same terms as the Catholic 7 split agreement.” Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said, “From both parties’ perspectives, there was (urgency). ... Part of it was just pretty clearly everybody understood a template now existed.” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 3/12).

DOLLARS & SENSE: The TRIBUNE's Hamilton writes for “all the hairpin turns and detours” that followed Notre Dame's September announcement it would join the ACC, “maybe the most stunning swerve came at the end: What made the most sense in college athletics actually happened.” Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey said, "It's been a distraction. I'm glad we have an answer and can plan accordingly." Hamilton writes the move is a “boon for just about every Irish program, from the higher-profile basketball teams to soccer, baseball and lacrosse.” Swarbrick said, "In so many ways, it's optimal for us.” Notre Dame “paid no exit fee, per se, but agreed to claim a relatively small share of the Big East's cash reserves -- one source put it at $1 million -- while the football schools retained the bulk of that pool.” Hamilton: “Whatever the price, it was a necessary one to pay for the health of the department” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/13). Swarbrick in a statement said, “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. This agreement realizes that intention” (NJ.com, 3/12).

LET'S GO BOWLING: ESPN.com’s Matt Fortuna wrote Notre Dame’s move “will have little impact on football this fall.” The school had “two bowl partnerships that lasted through this fall, one of which, the Champs Sports Bowl, had a one-in-every-four-years Big East replacement clause for Notre Dame, which the Irish used up in 2011 by playing Florida State there.” Notre Dame "has to make a BCS-bowl game this season or essentially become a free agent replacement for a conference that does not fill its bowl slots.” The New Era Pinstripe Bowl “can take Notre Dame if the Big 12 cannot fill its slots” (ESPN.com, 3/12).
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