The Atlantic Coast Conference has decided on adding a new member. And it is a bombshell.
The hallowed University of Notre Dame is now officially its 15th member, once its exit from the Big East is arranged. They will be involved in all ACC sports save for football. The Fighting Irish will retain its independent status, but they will be playing 5 games against conference schools.
Their 2012 football schedule sees them facing off against current ACC members Miami (FL), Boston College and Wake Forest. Soon-to-be ACC member Pitt is also part of their schedule this year, and will be the only one from the conference in 2013.
College realignment is back at it again. And John Swofford swipes another one. The Big East and Big Ten, both of whom share strong ties with the Irish, get screwed out. In fact, once it is formalized, a third of the teams from the expanded ACC will be from the Big East (Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh).
Full statement from the ACC after the jump.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to accept the University of Notre Dame as a new member. The Irish will compete as full members in all conference sponsored sports with the exception of football which will play five games annually against league programs.
"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity," said the ACC Council of Presidents in a joint statement. "The addition of Notre Dame further strengthens the rich tradition and culture of the ACC as well as allowing for future academic collaboration and we enthusiastically welcome them into the league."
"The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity," said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford. "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."
"The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," said Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. "With a mix of institutions - many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education - the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically."
"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," said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics. "We are able 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."
With the addition of Notre Dame, the ACC's future membership includes 11 institutions ranked among the top 58 in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report survey of "America's Best Colleges", more than any other conference also competing at the highest level athletically.
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.