The Atlantic Coast Conference on Wednesday announced the addition of Notre Dame as a full member in all sports except football. Notre Dame football, however, will play five games annually against ACC schools.
It’s a great move for the ACC. Notre Dame was the one school every conference wanted – well, maybe not the Pac-12. The Big Ten makes geographic sense and the football history between Notre Dame and schools such as Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue also makes sense. But you have to figure the Big Ten wanted Notre Dame as a full football member. Notre Dame isn’t ready for that type of commitment.
The Big East is going through dramatic changes and it’s not hard to imagine that Notre Dame wasn’t fond of having its non-football sports playing the new conference additions.
The ACC is a perfect fit for Notre Dame’s non-football sports. Men’s lacrosse, which was in the Final Four last season, gets to play powerhouse programs like North Carolina, Duke and Maryland regularly. Women’s soccer also benefits with powerhouse programs like North Carolina. Of course, men’s basketball really benefits with North Carolina and Duke. Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which will soon join the ACC, were former Big East rivals anyhow so that works fine as well.
In terms of football, Notre Dame has histories with Florida State and Miami (Fla.). The Irish always seem to have Boston College on the schedule. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have played Notre Dame in recent seasons. I’m not certain how Notre Dame factors into the equation in terms of sharing television revenue and being eligible for bowl games with ACC ties.
And there’s still the issue of the reported $5 million payment and 27 months' notice for withdrawal from the Big East by a non-football-playing member.
It’s another big blow for the Big East, which has lost TCU and West Virginia and will lose Pittsburgh and Syracuse very soon. Men’s basketball will continue to be pretty strong. But losing the Notre Dame brand hurts. And it’s now going to be tougher for new commissioner Mike Aresco to negotiate a much-needed big-money television contract.
UPDATE: Notre Dame will be in the mix for the ACC's non-BCS bowl tie-ins. Notre Dame does not have a bowl tie-in through the Big East this season. Also, with five games against ACC teams, Notre Dame can logistically still keep its high-profile games against USC and the Big Ten teams.