"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," said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame athletic director. "This will enable us 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.
Notre Dame has agreed to play five football games annually against ACC opponents. There are three ACC opponents on the 2011 Irish schedule (Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest) and a fourth, Pittsburgh will be joining the ACC next year. Each ACC conference member is guaranteed to play Notre Dame at least once every three years.
"This approach allows us to help promote ACC football while maintaining our traditional rivalries and a national schedule," said Swarbrick, who added that Notre Dame will be a part of the ACC's non-BCS bowl package.
"The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity," said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford. "Our partnership with Notre Dame only strengthens this long-standing commitment. Notre Dame enhances the league's unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope. 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 and showcases tremendous solidarity and vision by our Council of Presidents."
Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said the ACC offers other advantages to the university as well.
"The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," Father Jenkins said. "With a mix of institutions - many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education - the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically." Father Jenkins added: "It is our hope that, over time, we will be able to explore the possibility of academic collaboration as well as athletic competition with these outstanding universities."
It is unclear when Notre Dame will officially join the ACC. The current BIG EAST contract requires a school to give 27 months notice before exiting, although Pittsburgh and Syracuse, both of which will be joining the ACC, recently negotiated a shorter term.
Swarbrick says the plan is to begin playing five games a year against ACC football schools beginning in 2014, but a year is not yet set for when the remainder of the university's teams wuold begin ACC competition. The latest this would happen is the 2015-16 academic year, but Swarbrick hopes to expedite that.
"My own philosophy is, it's in everybody's interests to do it sooner rather than
later. I think ones you've made this decision, it's helpful.... I think we will work closely with them, but I think it's in everybody's interests to try to move it along."
The Big East has shown a willingness to negotiate an early exit, as it did with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who are scheduled to leave the Big East and join next year. The Big East received $7.5 million each from Pitt and Syracuse.
"The University of Notre Dame has informed us that it is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports other than football. Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East Conference and we wish them success in the future," Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said. "However, Notre Dame's departure does not change our plans. "