By JP Finlay
The University of Notre Dame will enter the Atlantic Coast Conference for all sports except football once the school can reach an agreement to exit the Big East conference, acording to an ACC statement.
The new ACC deal with Notre Dame will also include five football games against ACC opponents every year.
This announcement represents the closest that Notre Dame has ever come to entering a conference for football.
"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," Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said. "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."
Notre Dame has been an independent football team with a long-standing television contract with NBC.
The Fighting Irish schedule rotates but features annual matchups with rivals from the Big 10 conference like Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue and regular games against service academies Navy, Army, and Air Force as well as a marquee game against the University of Southern California.
Considering the new schedule will feature at least five ACC games, it is unclear what traditional rivalries Notre Dame may lose, or if they will lose any.
"Notre Dame enhances the league's unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope," Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "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."
Notre Dame will join the ACC around a time when two new conference members, Syracuse and Pitt, will enter the conference. In addition to its historic football team, Notre Dame has strong teams in men's and women's basketball, men's lacrosse and features a strong and loyal fan and alumni base across the country.
Once Notre Dame enters the ACC, the conference will stretch from Miami to Boston and as far west as South Bend, Ind.
Along with the unanimous vote to accept Notre Dame into the conference, the ACC Council of Presidents also voted to increase conference exit fees to three times annual operating budget. Given current budgets, that exit fee would cost more than 50 million.