The University of Notre Dame is steeped in years of tradition but has finally accepted that times have changed recently. America’s football program was not able to afford to go alone any longer. The Fighting Irish had to announce on Wednesday it had left the Big East conference and will join the Atlantic Coast Conference starting next season in all sports except for the football program and hockey.
The new move by the university ensures that it will have a more stable schedule as well as access to more marquee bowls. Starting next year, Notre Dame will play five opponents each football season from the ACC, but are not officially joining the conference. By doing that, the football program will have the opportunity to keep its huge television contract with NBC and the flexibility to have a better schedule against teams across the nation.
The ACC, in the new deal, receives the marquee name in all of college sports, which it can use to renegotiate a television contract with ESPN. Television experts believe that the conference agreed to a deal that was well below market value the last time it negotiated with the network. Currently schools from the ACC receive $17 million from ESPN annually.
In the past few years, conferences are getting bigger and scheduling games was becoming more difficult for Notre Dame. In addition, with the new playoff structure for football on the horizon, the school needs to have the security of aligning itself to a conference such as the ACC. The ACC has an agreement with the organizers of the Orange Bowl, on an ongoing basis.