Notre Dame to join Atlantic Coast Conference; football stays independent but brings 5 games annually to ACC

Author: Dennis Brown

Atlantic Coast Conference

The University of Notre Dame accepted an invitation today (Sept. 12) to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in all sports except football.

Most Notre Dame athletics programs have been members of the Big East Conference since 1995 after previously competing in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, North Star Conference and as independents. Jack Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics at Notre Dame, said the University will work with the Big East and ACC on a timetable to transfer athletic membership.

“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,” 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.

“We are immensely grateful to the members of the Big East, which has been a wonderful home for us the past 17 years. We also think that the conference has a strong future under the leadership of its new commissioner, Mike Aresco.”

“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.”

In addition to the athletic component, Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said the ACC offers other advantages.

“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,” Father Jenkins said. “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.”

Father Jenkins added: “It is our hope that, over time, we will be able to explore the possibility of academic collaboration as well as athletic competition with these outstanding universities.”

“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,” the ACC Council of Presidents said 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.”

As part of the partnership with the ACC, Notre Dame has agreed to annually play five ACC opponents in football and each conference member at least once every three years.

“This approach allows us to help promote ACC football while maintaining our traditional rivalries and a national schedule,” said Swarbrick, who added that Notre Dame will be a part of the ACC’s non-BCS bowl package.

The move to the ACC does not affect Notre Dame’s longstanding partnership with NBC Sports. The change in affiliation is “essentially revenue neutral,” Swarbrick said. “Financial implications were not a motivation.”

Current ACC members are Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC on July 1, 2013.

Among the 12 current ACC institutions, seven rank among the top 38 universities in the U.S. News & World Report survey “America’s Best Colleges” and five are members of the Association of American Universities.

ACC institutions are located in four of the top 10 most populated metropolitan areas in the country and, once Pittsburgh and Syracuse become members, will be in nine states up and down the eastern third of the United States.

Since the conference’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 127 NCAA championships, including 67 in women’s competition and 60 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 145 times in men’s competition and 104 times in women’s action. Four conference schools won NCAA championships in 2011-12, and two finished in the top 10 in last year’s Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings.

The Notre Dame football team is among the most storied in college sports, with 11 consensus national championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners, and more All-Americans and Hall of Famers than any other program in the country.

Notre Dame’s NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) figure for all student-athletes has ranked No. 1 among FBS institutions each of the last four years, and the Irish football team’s GSR has ranked No. 1 for three straight years.

Within the Big East Conference, Notre Dame has won 116 titles, more than any other school since the University’s entry in 1995-96, including 14 in women’s swimming and diving, 11 in women’s soccer, 11 in women’s tennis, nine in rowing, nine in volleyball, eight in men’s golf, and eight in men’s outdoor track and field.

Nationally, the Irish women’s soccer team and combined fencing teams won national championships in the 2010-11 academic year, the women’s basketball team has played for the national title the last two years, men’s basketball has earned three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, and the men’s lacrosse team has played in the final four in two of the last three years.

The Notre Dame hockey team will move to Hockey East after a final season in 2012-13 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Contact: Dennis Brown, assistant vice president for public information and communications,