Will Notre Dame-ACC Merger Work Without Football?

By Ryan McCart

The biggest news in college sports today was Notre Dame announcing that they would be joining the ACC. The timetable isn’t set for the Fighting Irish’s departure from the Big East, but with Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the conference next year it is reasonable to believe that Notre Dame will do whatever they can to join them.

Perhaps the biggest news that comes out of this merger is the notable absence of Notre Dame football. A month or so ago I wrote a piece about this potential partnership, and stated my belief that the ACC wouldn’t accept Notre Dame as a part time member. In other words, they would have to leave behind that big NBC contract and finally join a conference in football. It has now become apparent that this wasn’t the case.

However, Notre Dame has agreed to play five games each year against an ACC opponent. Each team will have a chance to play the Irish every three years, with a home game every six. So will this marriage work out, or will the ACC begin to feel like they are receiving the short end of the stick in a few years (much like the Big East)?

It is hard to say as of now. Notre Dame’s football program won’t join a conference until the NBC contract is up, but if they decide to renew that contract then it will be a very long time before Notre Dame even begins to seriously consider a conference affiliation in football.

This case, as in most cases, is all about the money. The Irish don’t want to give up the money offered by NBC and the ACC as a conference shares its television revenue.

Despite the fact that Notre Dame isn’t joining the conference in football, these two desperately need each other. Notre Dame and the ACC provide each other stability in a college football landscape where that notion is rare. Notre Dame moving to the ACC means they are leaving the Big East, which is a conference that appears ready to implode.

It now costs 50 million dollars for a school to leave the ACC. That is a steep price that no collegiate institution can really afford, meaning that the talk about Florida State and/or Clemson leaving for the Big 12 is now effectively over.

As of now, this merger seems successful for both sides, but Notre Dame’s semi-conference affiliation in football will be a delicate balancing act. It is perfectly reasonable to assume it will work, but only time will tell.

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