The Norman Transcript

Sports

December 18, 2012

Big East split complicates Notre Dame departure

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame’s athletic director says the recently announced split between the Big East and seven schools that don’t play major college football could complicate the Fighting Irish’s exit from the conference.

“Those two parties have to divide assets,” Jack Swarbrick told reporters Monday. “It poses a question about who you’re even talking to. Who is the Big East? Which of the two sides of that has the Big East name and rights, and who might lay claim to the Notre Dame affiliation going forward? It’s an interesting dynamic to try and figure out where all that’s headed. One of the real challenges we have right now is trying to assess when that might settle out.”

Notre Dame announced in September it is leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, though its football program will remain independent.

Big East bylaws require 27 months’ notice from departing members, which would put Notre Dame’s arrival in the ACC at 2015. The Irish would like to get out sooner and the Big East has been willing to discuss an early exit.

Swarbrick said that Notre Dame, like the seven Catholic schools, is not on the hook to pay an exit fee to the Big East. He said Big East rules that allow groups of schools to leave without financial penalty apply to the Fighting Irish. But an early exit might require some type of compensation.

West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh have all paid millions of dollars, in addition to the Big East’s exit fees, to leave the conference before the notification period.

But that was before the latest move to throw the Big East into disarray

“The challenge in this environment is, we’re not the focus right now. We’re the tail. That’s a little but of the challenge for us: How do you accelerate the discussion? How do you get some clarity? I don’t know where the point is, but there is a point where I can’t have our teams at risk, of not knowing what they’re doing. And that’s probably sooner rather than later.”

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