Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel recently ran down Notre Dame's options after the Catholic 7 announced they were leaving the Big East Conference. Notre Dame is in a precarious position. Having announced they were leaving the conference in September, Irish A.D. Jack Swarbrick no longer has a seat at the table. He's not even entirely sure what Notre Dame's options are when it comes to leaving the conference early.
Neither the Catholic 7 nor the Big East have a TV deal, leaving Notre Dame stuck in limbo as it tries to figure out where it will park its hoops and non-hockey Olympic sports next season. The worst case scenario is that Swarbrick is forced to go independent for a season or two in 26 sports, which isn't happening.
As for leaving the Big East early and joining the ACC in time for next season, that definitely appears to be on the table.
Swarbrick said that the ACC is open to taking Notre Dame in basketball and other sports next season without having to fulfill football-scheduling obligations.
Look, we all know that Swarbrick is going to get what he wants here. But should the ACC get nothing in return for early entry into the conference, that would be a pretty big failure on the part of Swarbrick and the league office. Notre Dame should at least make worth the conference's while to take the Irish basketball and other sports in a year early. Throw in a few football dates beyond the 5 games / year deal in future seasons or something.
I understand the conference wanting to be as accommodating as possible at the onset of the Notre Dame-ACC relationship, but the Irish shouldn't be allowed into the conference earlier without the league getting something in return.
Besides, it sounds like the Big East as we know it today will play at least one more season before the Catholics break off and form their own league. The time frame is just too short between now and August when the 2013-14 athletic season kicks off. Two conference TV contracts need to be inked, both conferences need to formalize and execute on an expansion plan, the Catholic 7 need to establish a leadership structure and work out all the fine details of the divorce with the Big East. No way all that gets resolved over the next few months.
In that case, there's nothing really preventing Notre Dame from spending one final season in the Big East other than the awkwardness that Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse all felt at being a lame duck member of an athletic conference for a year. So let the Irish sweat it out a little. Or, should you decide to take the Irish in a year earlier, better get something in return.