ACC prepares for Notre Dame to join early

ACC officials held a conference call late last week in part to discuss Notre Dame’s potential early exit from the Big East.

The result: If the Irish can come to the ACC in 2013, the league will take them. One league source believes the “odds are pretty good” Notre Dame will be a member in 2013.

The Irish, scheduled to stay in the Big East through next season but evaluating options after the departure of the Catholic 7 basketball schools, must negotiate an exit with the Big East first. ESPN reported the ACC has opened its doors for a summer entrance for Notre Dame.

The ACC will not be involved in Notre Dame’s breakup. Notre Dame will remain a football independent but will play five ACC games per year starting in 2014. Based on Big East bylaws that require 27 months notice before leaving, Notre Dame is scheduled to join the ACC in almost every other sport in 2015.

But with Pittsburgh and Syracuse negotiating $7.5-million settlements to leave the Big East early for the ACC, Notre Dame could take a similar path.

Notre Dame prefers a swift exit in line with the Catholic 7, which pushed in recent months for a clean break to start its own conference.

Notre Dame has been considering its options since at least December, when a Big East attorney notified league presidents and athletic directors via email that Notre Dame “reached out directly to the group of seven basketball schools to discuss the timing and terms for Notre Dame's departure.”

In a story published Feb. 1, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the Big East email “reflects our interest in understanding what the Catholic 7 are thinking in terms of a timetable. Risk we are trying to manage is the possibility that they leave earlier than expected.”

Talk about clairvoyance -- the Catholic 7 negotiated an early exit by the end of the month.

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