Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has worked his magic again folks. It looks like Notre Dame is bolting from the Big East…finally. Non-Football sports at Notre Dame will move to the ACC and become its 15th member. Irish football on the other hand will remain independent, sort of. You see, Notre Dame has agreed to play five games against ACC competition every year, but its football program will only be a ‘partial-member’ of the ACC. Furthermore, every ACC team will get a chance to play the Irish one time every three seasons, according to ND insider, Eric Hanson.
ACC commissioner John Swofford released a public statement earlier today:
“The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity. 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.”
Swarbrick did not mention the timetable for the move into the ACC , but the Big East bylaws require any member planning to leave to give 27 months
notice before departure and to pay an exit fee which was formerly set at $5 million. That being said, Pitt, Syracuse, TCU, and West Virginia all left before that period ever commenced, having negotiated the exit fee to around $7.5 million. All signs point to an early exit for the Irish and who can blame them with all the new TV money that will roll into South Bend?
The Big East is still engaging in ongoing negotiations with ESPN on a brand new TV deal (or what may be a lack thereof) while the ACC TV deal with ESPN is likely to increase to nearly $18 million per school, which is only $2 million less than the deal the Big 12 just inked with ESPN. Darren Rovell has indicated Notre Dame’s current NBC TV deal is valued at $15 million per year and expires in 2015, but considering NBC’s current TV programming is abysmal, they’d be ignorant not to renew the deal at that price tag.
Oh and one last thing- Swofford mentioned another significant piece of news at the conclusion of his official welcome to Notre Dame into the ACC:
“In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million.”
Theoretically, this minimizes the potential for Clemson, FSU, or Miami to leave the ACC because the exit fees would be upwards of $50 million, but we all know the fee is negotiable. My dreamy thinking is that Swofford made this move to prevent those very teams from continuing their consideration to leave the ACC for the Big 12. I guess the logical question now becomes, “When does the fifty million exit fee kick in?”. If it starts some time down the road then there still is a window for a university to leave for the previous twenty million exit fee. Only time will tell.