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Notre Dame joining ACC in all sports except football

Notre Dame's Alex Dragicevich, right, handles the ball

Notre Dame's Alex Dragicevich, right, handles the ball against South Florida's Toarlyn Fitzpatrick during the quarterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden. (March 8, 2012) Credit: Getty

The Big East Conference lost another marquee school as Notre Dame announced it will be leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Unless an early exit is negotiated with the Big East, Notre Dame would join the ACC in all sports except football beginning with the 2015-16 academic year.

But while Notre Dame's football program will retain its longtime status as an independent, the school believes the move will enhance its postseason opportunities in the sport.

"Look where we are in football right now," Notre Dame athletic department spokesman John Heisler said Wednesday. "We have no bowl options other than the BCS this year or next because the only relationship we have right now is with the Champs Sports Bowl through the Big East and that's just once in four years. We used that up this past year, so in essence it's kind of BCS or bust these next two years where we are either in a BCS game or waiting to see what slots are unfilled at the very end. It's hard to run a viable football program if you don't have some better options than that. This was the way to get ourselves in a position [where] we'll be part of the complete ACC rotation in terms of all the bowls they have access to."

As a member of the ACC, Notre Dame football will play five conference schools annually, including outgoing Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Notre Dame is expected to continue its long-term relationship with schools on the West Coast, most notably Stanford and USC, as well as Navy.

"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. "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."

The Big East requires a 27-month notice and $5-million exit fee for schools that are leaving, but Notre Dame does not expect to wait that long.

"As you've seen with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, that didn't necessarily hold up," Heisler said. Both of those institutions reportedly negotiated a higher indemnification and will join the ACC for the 2013-14 academic year.

The Big East issued a statement attributed to commissioner Mike Aresco, who was named last month and is in the midst of negotiating a new television package with ESPN.

"Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East Conference and we wish them success in the future," he said. "However, Notre Dame's departure does not change our plans. 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."


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