By TOM COYNE, Associated Press
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ Notre Dame will join the Atlantic Coast Conference starting next season, a year earlier than expected, following the split among the Big East’s football schools and seven Catholic schools that forming their own basketball-focused conference.
The move was announced Tuesday by Notre Dame following a vote by Big East presidents. It comes six months after Notre Dame surprisingly opted to join the ACC in all sports except football and hockey. Tuesday’s move means Notre Dame will join the ACC at the same time as fellow Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which announced earlier they would join the league. Louisville is expected to join the ACC after next season.
The move means Notre Dame coaches can move forward with scheduling for the 2013-14 school year.
“It removes the uncertainty that made it hard for our coaches and athletes, so we’re very happy to resolve that for them,” athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a telephone interview.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said the move made sense for the league.
“The Big East can now focus fully on its future alignment and rebranding efforts,” he said.
Swarbrick would not comment on whether Notre Dame paid an exit fee or other financial terms of the agreement. He said the decision to join the ACC early evolved over time, saying Notre Dame had been in constant touch with the ACC.
“It was an ongoing conversation,” he said. “These were daily conversations over weeks and months with the ACC, Big East and the Catholic 7.”
As recently as last month it appeared Notre Dame would remain in the Big East for one more season, with Swarbrick telling coaches to proceed with scheduling for next season under the assumption the Irish would be in the Big East for a 19th season. That was based on the assumption the seven Catholic schools would not be able to form their own league in time for next season.
Last week, Aresco said the seven Catholic schools were leaving effective July 1 and taking the Big East name with them. A person familiar with the negotiations last week told The Associated Press the football members, which do not include Notre Dame, will receive a payment of about $100 million from the conference and NCAA men’s basketball tournament funds, with the bulk of the money going to holdover members Cincinnati, Connecticut and South Florida.
The remaining members for next season of the yet-to-be-named league are Temple, Rutgers and Louisville, along with incoming members Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston. Rutgers is expected to join the Big Ten after next season. Tulane and East Carolina are scheduled to join in 2014, and Navy in 2015.
The seven Catholic schools that will make up the new Big East are: Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Marquette and DePaul.
Swarbrick said the move gives Notre Dame stability, especially for non-revenue sports, saying it was best for Notre Dame to join the ACC as soon as possible.
“Once we made a decision like we made, everybody psychologically moves on. You’re better off getting there,” he said.
The ACC has already announced a basketball scheduling model for Notre Dame’s arrival. In October, the league said the men would stay with an 18-game slate that would pair each team with two scheduling partners that each team played twice a year. Notre Dame’s scheduling partners are Boston College and Georgia Tech.
On the women’s side, the league is going back to a 16-game schedule. Scheduling partners have yet to be determined.
For football, Notre Dame is scheduled to play five games a year against ACC teams starting in 2014. The ACC is also scheduled to add Louisville from the Big East in 2014.
AP College Football Writer Ralph Russo and AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard contributed to this report.
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