South Bend, IN – Notre Dame has become the latest big-name school to exit the Big East and will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports, except football.
It's another coup for the ACC and another blow to the changing Big East.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced plans last September to join the ACC and will do so next year after working out an early exit from the Big East. West Virginia also moved from the Big East to the Big 12 this year, but only after a threat of legal action led to an exit agreement.
The Big East usually requires a 27-month notice of departure, and Notre Dame has said it will work with both conferences on a timetable to transfer 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," said Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick in Wednesday's statement. "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."
While Notre Dame will remain independent in football, the new partnership will include the Fighting Irish playing five ACC opponents each year and each conference member at least once every three years.
Notre Dame had been a Big East member in most sports but football since 1995. The men's hockey team had been part of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and will move to Hockey East next year.
"We are immensely grateful to the members of the Big East, which has been a wonderful home for us the past 17 years," Swarbrick added. "We also think that the conference has a strong future under the leadership of its new commissioner, Mike Aresco."
The Big East is a conference in transition, but reinforcements are already on the way to replace West Virginia, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and now, Notre Dame.
Temple has rejoined the league in football this fall and will become a full conference member for 2013-14. Boise State and San Diego State were added as football-only members with Memphis, Central Florida, Houston and SMU joining for all sports starting in 2013-14. Navy will also join for football in 2015.
"Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East Conference and we wish them success in the future," said new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco. "However, Notre Dame's departure does not change our plans. We have prestigious institutions that are excited to be a part of the Big East. We remain committed to making the Big East stronger than it has ever been."
There had long been speculation that if Notre Dame were to change conferences, it would move to the Big Ten with its natural rivalries based in the Midwest. Instead, the Irish will move to a southern-based league that has gradually extended its footprint northward.
"Notre Dame enhances the (ACC's) unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope," said ACC commissioner John Swofford. "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 addition of Notre Dame will give the ACC 15 members, leaving room for further expansion. It also marks the sixth former Big East member to leave for the ACC, as Miami-Florida, Virginia Tech and Boston College all previously made the move before Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
The ACC also said it was raising the exit fee for conference members to three times the league's annual operating budget, equating to more than $50 million.