Notre Dame Athletics Except for Football Program to Join ACC

The University of Notre Dame will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all league-sponsored sports except football.

The Fighting Irish will remain independent in football but will play five games annually against schools in the league.

Notre Dame will join the ACC as soon as it can exit the Big East Conference. While the Big East typically requires schools to pay a $5 million exit fee and give 27-month notice before leaving, the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University agreed to $7.5 million cash buyouts in July to terminate their membership and join the ACC in 2013.

“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 Athletic Director 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.”

The University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke University, Florida State, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, the University of Miami, Clemson University, the University of Maryland, Wake Forest University, Georgia Tech and Boston College are the other current members of the ACC.

“Notre Dame enhances the league’s unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “The collective alumni and fan bases cover the entire country with exceptionally strong roots up and down the Atlantic Coast. This is a terrific milestone in the evolution of the ACC.”

Big East

In addition to losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the Big East had Texas Christian University and West Virginia depart for the Big 12 conference, while Temple University joined this year.

After Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave in 2013, the Big East will add Boise State University and San Diego State in football, and Southern Methodist University, the University of Memphis, the University of Central Florida and the University of Houston in all sports. The U.S. Naval Academy will join the conference in football in 2015.

Notre Dame had joined the Big East for the 1995-96 season.

“Notre Dame’s departure does not change our plans,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “We have prestigious institutions that are excited to be a part of the Big East. We remain committed to making the Big East stronger than it has ever been.”

Football Team

The Notre Dame football team, which has won 11 consensus national championships and produced seven Heisman Trophy winners, has agreed to play each ACC member at least once every three years when it joins the league. The Fighting Irish, with a 2-0 record, have four current or future ACC opponents on this season’s schedule, with games against Miami, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest.

Swarbrick said the move to the ACC doesn’t affect the school’s partnership with Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal. At least eight of Notre Dame’s 12 football games this season will be televised by NBC.

The change in affiliation is “essentially revenue neutral,” Swarbrick said. “Financial implications were not a motivation.”

Notre Dame’s sports programs have won 116 league titles during its 17-year Big East tenure, more than any other school over that period. Notre Dame’s women’s soccer and combined fencing teams won national titles in 2011, while the women’s basketball team has played for the national championship the past two years. The men’s basketball program has made three straight appearances in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament and the men’s lacrosse team has reached the Final Four of its tournament two of the past three years.

Ice Hockey

Notre Dame’s ice hockey team will move to Hockey East from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in 2013 because the sport isn’t sponsored by the ACC. Boston College is the only school in the league with a Division I hockey program.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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