- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick likes the direction the Big East is heading. Now, it's time for the 14-team conference to act on its plans to expand, something its presidents voted unanimously to authorize commissioner John Marinatto to pursue after a meeting Sunday at Georgetown.
"It's great to make plans," Swarbrick said Wednesday at Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena, where its hockey team announced it would join Hockey East. "It's whether the people you might be interested in or the circumstances will allow you to achieve those plans, but certainly the way the conference is thinking and what it's trying to achieve are consistent of what I think it needs to do."
The Big East lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC on Sept. 18, causing concern about the viability of the league in which 18 Notre Dame sports compete in, including its men's and women's basketball teams.
A weakened or nonexistent Big East would likely force Notre Dame to re-evaluate its status as a football independent, something it desires to maintain.
The Pac-12 announced it would not expand three days after Pitt's and Syracuse's moves to the ACC, seemingly quelling the realignment circus momentarily.
But Swarbrick, who in earlier interviews had said he was caught off-guard by Pitt's and Syracuse's moves, said Wednesday that he knows better than to think all is settled in the college sports landscape.
"You know I certainly have been taught enough times now not to claim there's any calmness emerging," Swarbick said. "Every time I declare it someone proves me wrong. So our assumption is it's not. Certainly the factors that have contributed to the larger conference realignment continue to exist and we're doing the same thing we've done throughout: monitoring it closely and hoping that the Big East stays a vibrant and successful partner for us."
Asked the odds of the Big East staying vibrant and successful, Swarbrick said: "I'm not placing any odds on anything these days."