What Does Notre Dame's Exit Mean for the Big East?

What Does Notre Dame's Exit Mean for the Big East?

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Wednesday morning that it
has accepted Notre Dame
as a member for all sports excluding
football, although the school will now play five football games per season against ACC members. According to the release, the move will be made official as
soon as ND can go about negotiating its exit from its current
conference.

That conference, the Big East, officially
requires a 27-month notice for all departures, although West Virginia,
Pittsburgh and Syracuse have worked out deals within the last year that
expedited that process in exchange for larger exit
fees.

So, back to our age-old question, what does
this mean for the Big East?

Almost exactly 11 months
ago, in reviewing doomsday scenarios for the conference before it added
seven new members, I
mentioned this move
-- Notre Dame to the ACC -- as a
possibility, and tied it to the future of Big East stalwart UCONN.
Specifically, that if Notre Dame did become the ACC's 15th school, UCONN
would be a natural fit as No. 16.

Back then, the
scenario actually revolved around the implosion of Big East football,
but UCONN to the ACC really made sense regardless of the future of
football. This speculation followed reports that suggested UCONN
was aggressively seeking
a move to the ACC and that the
conference actually wanted UCONN
before it settled for
Pittsburgh.

A few months later, in Feb. 2012, the
Hartford Courant (via the BC
Interruption
blog)
published:

"Sources told The Courant recently
that the ACC has a 16-team model in place with its first choices being
Notre Dame and UConn, but with Notre Dame maintaining its independent
position there is no rush to go to 16. If the ACC can't convince Notre
Dame, Rutgers could get the call with UConn, but sources say there is no
rush there, either."

Well, the ACC nabbed
Notre Dame. It has 15 schools for basketball (and 14 for football), which it could live with as balance in basketball isn't as important as in football. That said, you'll also notice the wording above reads,
"if the [ACC] can't convince Notre Dame," as if UCONN is a forgone
conclusion. Joe Giglio of the Charlotte Observer (via VUHoops) reports that there are no plans to expand to 16 as long as Notre Dame remains independent for football.

Bracket further ACC expansion for a second, and here's what we're looking at: the Big
East has lost a member in Notre Dame, leaving it with 17 schools for
basketball (this number includes the 2013 arrivals of  UCF,
Memphis, SMU and Houston). The move, on its own, does not impact
football, which will have 13 schools by 2015.

As Big
East commissioner Mike
Aresco stated over the weekend
, a 14th school would make
sense for football. Well, now it would make sense for basketball, too.
Should the Big East accept a next new member for all sports, it would
set the football and basketball totals at even numbers -- 14 and 18,
respectively.

Of course, the Big East might not be the only
conference looking to add.

The ACC
-- who has already taken Virginia Tech, Boston College, Miami, Syracuse, Pittsburgh
and Notre Dame from the Big East in the last eight years -- could always come
calling for one more down the line.

Regardless of what happens with the ACC, Notre Dame's exit is another loss for the Big East. And, on it's own, it's really not so bad. But if it paves the way for another departure, then it's substantial.

*

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