GREENSBORO, N.C. -- At SEC media days, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier openly asked why Notre Dame didn't have to play in a conference "like everyone else." Spurrier was referencing the school's partial membership with the ACC -- playing just five games per year against ACC opponents -- which begins in 2014.
On Sunday, ACC commissioner John Swofford was questioned about Notre Dame's status as an independent, and if there would be an expectation for the Fighting Irish to join as a full member.
"If Notre Dame decides to join a conference before 2027, contractually it has to join the ACC," Swofford reminded the assembled media. "They would be welcome with open arms."
The partial membership was something that was discussed, and agreed upon, by league members when the conference voted to invite Notre Dame to the ACC. But with the recent comments from the likes of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski regarding Notre Dame's independence, the topic was raised to the commissioner at his annual forum.
For now, it does not seem like the ACC has any plans to pressure the Fighting Irish into joining as a full-time member. As the College Football Playoff evolves, it is possible that Notre Dame's leadership decides it would be beneficial for scheduling purposes. However, it does not appear that move will happen in the immediate future.
According to Swofford, the league has already benefited from the association in Notre Dame. It would be safe to assume that Notre Dame's relationship with the ACC -- as part of their partial membership, the Fighting Irish will have access to the bowl games with ACC ties -- helped the league in the negotiations for future bowl agreements. Just last week, the ACC announced six-year deals with seven different bowl games -- including new agreements with the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl and New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York City.