September 12, 2012

Notre Dame to Join ACC; Big Implications for Men's, Women's Lacrosse

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

The Fighting Irish will join the ACC in most sports, including men's and women's lacrosse, although a timetable for Notre Dame's move from the Big East has not yet been determined.
© John Strohsacker/

updated 09.12.12 at 3.48 p.m.

In a conference realignment move that significantly alters the college lacrosse scene, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) on Wednesday announced Notre Dame has accepted an invitation to join the conference in all sports except football.

The ACC's announcement did not indicate when the move would be made, and reported Wednesday that the timing of Notre Dame's departure from the Big East is "very murky," according to a school official. The Big East currently requires members to provide 27 months notice although other schools have negotiated earlier exits, including Syracuse, which will join the ACC on July 1, 2013.

Notre Dame's move, when it does happen, would strengthen what are already widely considered the top men's and women's lacrosse conferences in the nation, while leaving the Big East without the Fighting Irish and Syracuse.

"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 athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a 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."

Notre Dame would give the ACC a sixth member in men's lacrosse, with Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Syracuse when the Orange joins for next season. The conference also would become eligible for an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, reaching the six-team requirement needed.

"It means that year in and year out we're going to play the best schedule in the country," Notre Dame men's coach Kevin Corrigan said. "It means great rivalries with schools that are very similar to ours in so many ways. It means there's no impediment to us winning national championships and being one of the best programs in the country."

On the women's side, Notre Dame's addition would give the ACC eight teams with the Irish and Syracuse coming into the fold, along with Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Notre Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech and Syracuse.

"We're thrilled," Notre Dame women's coach Christine Halfpenny said. "We're ecstatic to be joining the ACC, one of, if not the strongest lacrosse conference in the country."

Depending on the timing of Notre Dame's Big East exit, coupled with Loyola's move to the Patriot League for the 2014 season, the Big East women's conference will be left with Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, UConn and Villanova as members. The Marquette women join the conference for 2014.

Marquette, which will play its first varsity men's season this spring as a Division I independent, also is scheduled to join the Big East as a full member in men's lacrosse beginning in 2014. The addition of Marquette will allow the Big East to keep its automatic qualifying berth to the NCAA men's tournament going forward. Notre Dame can't leave the Big East without penalty until 2015, and the conference would have six members with the Eagles' addition to Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, St. John's and Villanova.

"The University of the Notre Dame has informed us that it is joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports other than football," Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. "Notre Dame has been a valued member of the Big East Conference and we wish them success in the future. 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."

The move to the ACC does not affect Notre Dame's longstanding partnership with NBC Sports. The change in affiliation is "essentially revenue neutral," Swarbrick said. "Financial implications were not a motivation."

Current ACC members are Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join this upcoming July.

"The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "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."

There are some interesting ACC ties involving current Notre Dame men's coach Kevin Corrigan. He's a Virginia alum and the son of Gene Corrigan, a former ACC Commissioner and athletic director at Virginia (as well as Notre Dame).

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