College Basketball Nation: Notre Dame to ACC

Podcast: Notre Dame coach Mike Brey

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
9:20
AM ET
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey comments on the Fighting Irish's upcoming move to the ACC, the future of conference realignment, Jim Calhoun's retirement and more.
Remember all the angst when the ACC went to one "primary partner" in its new 18-game men’s basketball schedule -- meaning North Carolina and rival NC State would some years play only once during the regular season?

It looks like the addition of Notre Dame will solve that problem.

ACC commissioner John Swofford told reporters Wednesday -- after a news conference announcing the Irish’s move -- that a 15-team, 18-game league slate “in all likelihood” means the conference will go back to two primary partners guaranteed to play a home-and-home series each season.

Asked if that meant the Tar Heels and Wolfpack (who do play home-and-home in 2012-13) would return to that primary-partner relationship, Swofford laughed and said: “I think that has a good chance of happening.”

UNC and NC State have met at least twice a year since the ACC was founded, but the Tar Heels were paired with another rival, Duke, when the league opted to expand to an 18-game schedule (and subtract a primary partner) in anticipation of Pittsburgh and Syracuse officially joining the league in 2013-14.

Notre Dame is not expected to leave the Big East for the ACC until at least 2014.

Hat-tip: InsideCarolina

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

UNC's Williams welcomes Notre Dame

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
3:25
PM ET
North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Wednesday welcomed new league foe Notre Dame to the ACC via prepared statement:
“The ACC’s decision to add Notre Dame has my full support. I wish to welcome the Fighting Irish and their fans to the ACC. It’s a great school with one of the most historic traditions in all of college athletics. I look forward to competing against them on a regular basis. Certainly as conferences looked to expand their membership, common sense said to look at Notre Dame. Notre Dame and the ACC is a fit that makes a lot of sense.”

Added UNC athletics director Bubba Cunningham, a Notre Dame graduate:
“It’s an exciting and historic day for everyone associated with the ACC and college athletics. Notre Dame shares the University of North Carolina’s and the ACC’s values of integrity, academic achievement and athletic success. It will be a major plus for ACC football to play the Fighting Irish five times a year and their basketball programs and Olympic sports teams have much to offer to our league. The ACC presidents, Commissioner Swofford and the ACC staff should be applauded for their forward thinking in making Notre Dame and the ACC a reality. It is a move that strengthens each and every ACC institution and solidifies the league’s place as one of the premier conferences in the country.”

The Tar Heels, by the way, are 16-4 all-time against the Irish in men's basketball.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.

Video: Dick Vitale on Irish joining ACC

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
1:22
PM ET

Dick Vitale talks about Notre Dame joining the ACC in all sports except football.

Irish's move shakes up ACC, Big East

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
1:04
PM ET
For years the ACC unofficially billed itself as the best basketball league in the land, often relying on ancient history in lieu of actual results to inaccurately boast its place in the pecking order.

The reality, of course, is that the ACC is home to two of the most successful and iconic programs in the nation. For the past quarter-century -- with a few exceptions such as Maryland a decade ago -- everyone else has been like an ugly stepsister riding coattails to the ball. In other words, with little to no chance to dance.

The truly best basketball league in the land duked (pun intended) it out in New York every March, in a week-long slugfest that made the NCAA tournament look like a tea party.

The Big East, in all its blue-collar nastiness, may not always have offered the most aesthetically pleasing version of Mr. Naismith's game, but it was inarguably the deepest and toughest in the country.

So much for that.

The king is dead.

Long live the king.

Click here for the rest of Dana O'Neil's column.

Video: ND to ACC 'a big step,' says Phelps

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
11:37
AM ET

Former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps discusses Notre Dame's move from the Big East to the ACC in all sports but football.

Notre Dame latest to leap to ACC

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
11:20
AM ET
I have to admit it. I did not see this one coming.

But lo and behold, here it is: On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy broke the news: Notre Dame is joining the ACC.
Notre Dame will join the Atlantic Coast Conference as a full member with the exception of football, but will play five football games annually against ACC teams.

"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, in a statement released by the conference. "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."

There is no timetable yet set for Notre Dame's departure from the Big East. Basketball coach Mike Brey texted ESPN.com's Andy Katz, saying "we're going," but confirmed there was no time frame set for the move. The Big East requires its current members to provide 27 months' notice (sort of like two weeks' notice at your job, but much longer) or a large departure fee, which Syracuse and Pittsburgh both recently paid to exit the league ahead of schedule. (Update: Big East associate commissioner John Paquette told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Wednesday morning that Notre Dame must pay a $5 million exit fee and wait 27 months to leave the conference.)

Much of the wider interest in this move will concern Notre Dame's football program, its status in the BCS, its sudden decision to play five ACC members a year, and so on. But as we care more about college basketball, let's focus on what this move does for everyone involved in hoops.

For Notre Dame and Brey, it changes scheduling and ... actually, isn't that about it? The Big East was already a tough league. So is the ACC. Notre Dame was already somewhat awkwardly apart from its conference's traditional footprint. Moving to the ACC might make that disparity a little more drastic, but all in all, it doesn't change much. Brey will keep the steady Irish machine -- this is a good, if rarely great, program -- churning.

For the ACC, it's something of a coup. Notre Dame is a quality basketball program. It has a huge national fan base that, OK, sure, may not care nearly as much about basketball as football, but still cares enough to watch.

It also sets the stage for another move. Notre Dame is the ACC's 15th team in nearly all sports but football, especially basketball. But for the modern TV-related importance of a strong football product -- which ND's scheduling games against ACC teams also provides -- the ACC's flagship is basketball. It seems likely that Swarbrick and his presidents will be eager to achieve a nice even number of basketball members, adding a 16th member sometime in the coming months. The question is: who?

And that brings us to what this means for the beleaguered Big East. As of this writing, many seem to already be declaring the death of the Big East as we know it. That feels a little premature. After all, Notre Dame didn't play football in the Big East. The loss of ND basketball is tough to swallow, particularly in the wake of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, but it's not necessarily a conference-killer.

Having said that ... the Big East keeps losing limbs, one after the other, like the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." And more could be on the way. The ACC still has 15 basketball members and 14 football members, and it could very well add a Big East stalwart like Georgetown without adding odd tallies to its football membership (Georgetown doesn't field an FBS program). Another loss like that -- or of Louisville, or Connecticut, or Rutgers, or any other real or imagined scenario currently floating on Twitter -- could be devastating.

In any case, the league is under new leadership. Former television executive Mike Aresco is doing everything he can to get the Big East a TV deal that will keep it afloat for the next decade, if not longer. He has to wrangle a conference that at this point is very little like the original Big East, and is instead an odd menagerie of football programs and basketball-only schools, all of which have very different values and very different ideas about what share of the conference's revenue that value entitles them to. And they're all under siege.

Aresco's job was already brutally tough. It only got worse Wednesday morning.

Update, 2:30 p.m.: Via our updated news story, multiple sources told McMurphy that the ACC "does not plan to expand to include a 16th school." ACC commissioner John Swofford confirmed as much publicly during today's ESPNU news conference: "There's no need to add a 16th team, and no intention to do so. From a practical standpoint, it's illogical."

Even if the Big East remains diminished -- and as Dana O'Neil wrote today, it does -- perhaps concerns about a continued or even accelerated exodus can be quashed. For now, at least.

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