This is probably as close as Notre Dame football will get to joining a conference, at least in the near future.
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy reported that Notre Dame will join the ACC for all sports, but not football (and hockey, which the ACC doesn't have). The ACC announced the move and said the vote to add Notre Dame was unanimous. The conference also said it is increasing the exit fee to three times the annual operating budget, which would put the current exit fee at about $50 million.
Even though the football team isn't joining the ACC, that program is affected by the news as well.
The Irish will play five games every year against ACC opponents, the conference said. Notre Dame will join the ACC as soon as it can exit the Big East, according to ESPN's story. The school has to provide a 27-month notice, but West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were able to get out earlier by paying a higher exit fee.
The arrangement will obviously be unusual. Notre Dame will play close to a full ACC schedule - the full members of the conference play eight league games - but not be part of the league. Notre Dame could go 5-0 in games against regularly scheduled ACC foes but wouldn't claim the conference championship, at least officially.
Like most things about realignment, it's confusing.
ACC members will get less non-conference scheduling flexibility, but that's probably not a bad tradeoff for those teams to get the occasional home game (and huge crowd) against Notre Dame. Notre Dame's scheduling flexibility will also be affected a bit, but this year's schedule already had an ACC flavor, with Miami, Boston College and Wake Forest on the slate, as well as future ACC member Pitt.
Also, the new arrangement with the ACC doesn't affect Notre Dame's television contract with NBC, the South Bend Tribune reports, which makes the ACC deal a pretty nice win for the Fighting Irish.
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