SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame has found a new home for most of its athletic programs while retaining its independence in football.
The Irish will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in every sport except football and hockey, the university and ACC announced Wednesday.
We didnt feel we could give (football independence) up without losing our identity in some way, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins said at a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C. We are just deeply grateful to the ACC, who have been such great partners in recognizing that.
While the Irish will not play football in the ACC, Notre Dame agreed to schedule five games every season with an ACC opponent. The Irish will play each ACC team at least once in a three-year period.
The Irish will also have access to the conferences non-BCS-bowl tie-ins.
Today is a great day for the University of Notre Dame and our athletics department, including the football program, Irish football coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. Speaking strictly from a football standpoint, we have further solidified our future as an independent in college football, maintained our unique ability to schedule nationally and greatly improved our postseason bowl game options.
The scheduling agreement with the ACC could mean Notre Dame would have to rotate some of its traditional rivalry games against the Big Tens Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State. But the Irishs games against USC, Stanford and Navy appear to be safe.
Its obvious that we will not be able to maintain every rivalry every year; getting to California each year is very important to us, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said at a news conference in the football teams Guglielmino Athletics Complex.
We are going to work to maintain as many of our traditional games as we can.
A time for Notre Dames departure from the Big East is not set yet. Big East Associate Commissioner John Paquette wrote in an email that the Irish will have to pay a $5 million exit fee and give a 27-month notice before leaving.
But Syracuse and Pittsburgh were able to leave the Big East before the waiting period by agreeing to pay $7.5 million buyouts in July and are scheduled to join the ACC on July 1, 2013.
Swarbrick said the university will fulfill its obligations to the Big East but there will be discussions of arranging an earlier exit.
My own philosophy is, its in everybodys interests to do it sooner rather than later, Swarbrick said of leaving the Big East.
The ACC also made it more difficult for schools to leave its conference when it welcomed Notre Dame on Wednesday.
The conferences Council of Presidents voted to increase the ACCs exit fee to three times the annual operating budget. The league says the operating budget is currently more than $50 million. ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the new exit fee goes into effect immediately and would apply to Notre Dame.
Swofford said the ACC is done expanding and that Notre Dames inclusion as a partial member is a sign of the times.
We have always been an all-in membership, Swofford said. With a changing landscape out there in intercollegiate athletics and a changing world; what was best 20 years ago isnt necessarily the best in todays world.
The big football implication of the deal is that the Irish will be part of the conferences postseason agreements, starting in 2014 when college footballs new playoff system begins.
Notre Dame can replace an ACC team in any non-BSC bowl if the Irish are ranked higher, have an equal or better record or are within one win of an ACC team. Notre Dame can also be an ACC teams opponent in the Orange Bowl.
We had to solve the challenge of what postseason football would be for us below the BCS level, Swarbrick said.
I think this relationship worked so well because important needs like that were served, but to the benefit of both parties. We believe that our inclusion will help the ACC get better bowls.
Notre Dame will keep its broadcast relationship with NBC and will not receive revenue from the ACCs football games covered by the leagues 15-year deal with ESPN, worth $3.6 billion. Swofford said the ACC would renegotiate its TV contract to account for Notre Dames arrival.
Notre Dame has played basketball in the Big East since the mid-1990s. Now, in the ACC, the Irish will face traditional powers such as Duke and North Carolina and rekindle its rivalries with former Big East members such as Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
The league also fits other sports that Notre Dame is competitive in, including lacrosse and soccer.