Notre Dame to join ACC as Partial Member, as early as 2014

via images.athlonsports.com

Back in May, when it was announced that the BCS was going to die and be replaced by a 4-team playoff, and considering new TV deals, I said that the only thing the ACC could do to save itself was really to add Notre Dame. If the football-oriented schools weren't getting enough money to compete in their own state, then they'll eventually bolt. The B1G had tried to talk them into joining for decades but wanted an "All-In" or nothing scenario, and ND would never go for it. I thought, considering the historical magnitude of ND losing its independence, that this has always been a bad strategy by Jim Delaney. Swofford managed to see that and do something that makes the best sense for his conference, and talked ND into joining the ACC as a partial member. How he failed to get us what the Big XII got for fewer teams is still baffling, but ND is a prize that will only help the ACC in the long term. They could suck for 10 more years and they’re still a benefit financially.

- The catch is the ACC buyout increases to $50 million. I’m sure it was a negotiating point brought up by ND when they saw the flirtation between Clemson/FSU and the Big XII (and flirtation did happen, but the Big XII did not make any offer), and so the buyout gives them a stable place to put their sports, removing them from the dying Big East.

- ND has been "told" by the Big East they must pay a buyout and give 27 months notice. Sure.

It also lets Swofford keep his job, which I’m sure was good motivation. Considering that the SEC TV deal will blow us away, and the B1G, Pac-12, and Big XII (for 10 teams) deals are already more than the 14-team ACC contract, the only way he could keep his job was to add football teams to a football TV deal. Will it bring us in line financially with any of these conferences though? That is the question. The answer appears to be no, based on their performance since Holtz left. Projections are to raise our TV deal from $16M per year (it is not 17M per, since the ACC takes a full team share) to $17-18 M per year. ND still gets the cash for home games on NBC. This will still be ~$2M less than the new Big XII deal, and we still lose our 3rd tier rights (if only the money is renegotiated).

Once they see that they could get shuffled to Raycom for a ND@Duke game, maybe they'll raise hell and get Raycom to fix their issues, or demand we keep some 3rd tier rights.

- According to details released so far, ND is obviously not eligible for the ACC Championship, and will play 5 ACC teams per year. They will, at least under the terms released, play every team on a rotation. We are guaranteed to play them once every 3 years, and at home every 6.

- Under this arrangement, they do not get any of the money on the current deal. They have their NBC contract to themselves, and we keep any football cash from the ESPN deal.

I have not seen it stated where ND will play in divisions for olympic sports/baseball, but they are a full member there, and will get 1/15th of the basketball TV money upon joining. Their NBC football deal expires in 2015, and its possible that we get some kind of hybrid deal between NBC-ESPN between the tiers of games after that time. I do not know whether their 3rd Tier rights and Olympic sports will come under the deal we signed or a renegotiated deal, but Swofford has already said they are looking to renegotiate and have contacted ESPN.

The smart move is to tell ESPN that 1st Tier games will go to NBC networks if they don’t pay up, or they can release 3rd Tier to the individual schools, or the conference itself, to begin an ACC Network (channel, not the syndication network we have now).

At least Swofford did listen to the Presidents and AD’s of his schools and got us a good football school, and this deal has been in discussions for quite some time, much longer than the Big XII talk. Notre Dame has an issue caused by the larger conference mergers, in that they cannot fill out their schedule with anything but cupcakes in the middle/end of the season. This allows them to solve the problem, and allows us to raise the RPI of the ACC, if they ever become relevant again in football (theyre certainly better than the two crap football teams we just added). The new BCS deal may eventually force them to join a conference, and it would likely be the ACC. Only then would we see a true payoff in TV money.

I still do not see the need for a 9th game and this may give real impetus amongst the non-football schools to fix that. We still have to have the gate money but we're being told that we have a mandatory road game every 6 years to ND? If they became full members after 2015, and in the same division with us, maybe I could go for 9. The best thing the ACC could do is knock it down to 8 + 1.

It is likely as well that we get pushed down for a bowl spot if ND is available, but having them can help us get better bowls. Swofford says ND will have to be within 1 win of ACC team for a bowl to take ND over that team, but we'll see.

The announcement from Greensboro is after the jump:

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Atlantic Coast Conference Council of Presidents has unanimously voted to accept the University of Notre Dame as a new member. The Irish will compete as full members in all conference sponsored sports with the exception of football which will play five games annually against league programs.

"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," said the ACC Council of Presidents 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."

"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."

"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," said Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. "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."

"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. "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."With the addition of Notre Dame, the ACC's future membership includes 11 institutions ranked among the top 58 in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report survey of "America's Best Colleges", more than any other conference also competing at the highest level athletically.In addition to extending an invitation to Notre Dame, the Council of Presidents voted to increase the conference exit fees to three times the annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of over $50 million.

Clearly since we were founded on the cornerstones of academics, athletics and integrity, UNC will be kicked out next week, right?

The bottom line is that if we're only giving up 1/15 of basketball money, and 0/14 of football money, that this is not really hurting us. It helps ND yes, but if we can renegotiate the TV deals and get more money, raise the stature of the conference nationally, and get cash flowing into Olympic sports, then this is about the best we could hope for unless Clemson left for the SEC or Big XII. It also opens up some avenues for recruiting for basketball and football in the midwestern states.

Now will Swofford get us more money? Will we add a 16th team?

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