Providence, RI – Notre Dame and the Big East Conference have announced a separation agreement that will allow the Fighting Irish to begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference in the 2013-14 academic year.
Notre Dame made its decision to join the ACC last September, following in the footsteps of fellow Big East members Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Louisville was then invited to join the ACC in November.
All the moves, including West Virginia's decision to head to the Big 12, have led to the demise of the Big East. Once a powerhouse conference with 16 teams, the league split even further last week with the announcement of the departure of seven basketball-centered schools. Those universities will retain the Big East name.
After last week's pronouncement fractured the conference to another level, it was believed that Notre Dame would seek an early exit. Big East bylaws had required a 27-month departure notice, which would have kept the Fighting Irish in one of the leagues for 2013-14.
Terms of the agreement reached Tuesday were not disclosed, but Notre Dame's exit will be effective July 1.
"From the time of our decision to join the ACC we have stressed our commitment to ensuring that our departure was achieved in a collegial manner," said Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. "This agreement realizes that intention and we are very grateful to the members of the Big East and commissioner (Mike) Aresco for helping to facilitate this orderly and timely transition."
Notre Dame will join the ACC in all sports, except football and hockey. It will remain independent in football, although the new affiliation agreement requires the Fighting Irish to play five ACC schools per season, while the hockey program will move to Hockey East.
The separation of the basketball schools from the Big East will also take effect on July 1.
"This decision makes sense for the Big East," said Big East commissioner Mike Aresco. "In view of Notre Dame's expressed desire to join the ACC on an earlier timetable, the Big East and Notre Dame were able to arrive at an acceptable resolution. The Big East can now focus fully on its future alignment and rebranding efforts. Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East and we wish them well."
The remaining schools from the old Big East are Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida, Louisville, Rutgers and Temple, with additions for next year coming in Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF. Temple was football-only in 2012 with full membership coming next year.
Rutgers is set to depart for the Big Ten in 2014, although the school is hoping to leave sooner, while Louisville is also set to move to the ACC in 2014.
Tulane will join the new Big East, or whatever the conference will be named, in all sports in July 2014 with East Carolina for football only in 2014, followed by Navy for football only in 2015.