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Kelly could be in line for more rewards

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Brian Kelly received a two-extension on his original contract at Notre Dame last January.

That two-year bump was an automatic extension based on language in his deal.

Kelly could be in line for another extension and a possible pay raise after leading No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) to Monday's BCS championship game against No. 2 Alabama (12-1), Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Sunday after Kelly and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban held their final news conferences before the title game.

Swarbrick said everything will be on the table when he meets with the third-year Irish coach, and the Notre Dame AD didn't seem too concerned that he would be losing Kelly to the NFL any time soon.

"t feels great to have a great coach, who is doing a phenomenal job for us," Swarbrick said. "I think what you heard in (the news conference) about 'process' and setting the bar is an important part of where we are.

"What I feel best about is – the foundation is built. They'll be great years, and there will be not-so-great years. That's the nature of athletics. But I feel the foundation is in place to give ourselves an opportunity every year, and that's great."

What's not in place is Notre Dame's immediate future in the Big East.

The Irish are set to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in every sport but football and hockey 2014, but since the announcement to change leagues was made Swarbrick has left the door open on an earlier exit.

With the seven Catholic schools – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova – exiting to form a basketball conference on their own and the Big East continuing to try to figure out how to survive with its football-playing schools, Swarbrick is still not sure if Notre Dame will be making an early exit from the conference or play one more season under the Big East banner.

"We are still working on it," Swarbrick said. "We continue to get new pieces of information external to our discussions. The seven Catholic schools' decision, Louisville's decision, everything is a new piece of information, so we don't have a resolution, and we continue to talk about it.

"I read from some of you, I think they are meeting today or tomorrow or sometime. There may be some additional clarity."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.