Two weeks into ESPN and the Big East conference's exclusive negotiating window for media rights, Notre Dame announces a curious move. The Fighting Irish are moving all of their sports to the Atlantic Coast Conference, except for their coveted football program.
UPDATE: the deal also includes a stipulation that Notre Dame plays five ACC teams per year, and receives bowl tie-ins below the ACC's BCS bowl.
At least the Big East won't necessarily have to worry about a 20-game schedule in basketball!
Notre Dame football continues to have an exclusive deal with NBC - meaning they get regular Saturday exposure and do not have to share their media rights income with any other schools. But on the football side, the Fighting Irish will play five games against ACC foes.
Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a statement, "we are able 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."
Per the press release, Notre Dame's addition means that the ACC’s future membership includes 11 institutions ranked in the top 58 in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report survey of "America's Best Colleges", more than any other conference also competing at the top revenue level nationally.
Per Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel:
...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.
While Notre Dame wants to keep its football independence, the school will align itself with private school programs with very good academic reputations such as Duke and Wake Forest, along with former Big East private schools Miami and Boston College. The move will align the Irish with Pittsburgh and Syracuse as well, who will officially leave the Big East Conference after this season.
With an uneven number of teams in sports such as basketball, the ACC could make another move.
The date for Notre Dame's departure is not yet known. Notre Dame showed no interest in joining the Big East for football.
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