As a renowned private institution, Notre Dame is bathrobe-and-slippers comfortable with schools such as Duke, Boston College, Wake Forest and Syracuse. Moreover, mirroring the ACC, the Irish annually excel in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate scores.
“Shared values,” indeed.
Relationships also were XXXL important in forging this deal.
Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch, whom Swofford cited as a major player, worked 30 years at Notre Dame; Duke athletic director Kevin White held the same position at Notre Dame; Swofford’s predecessor as commissioner, Gene Corrigan, is a former Irish AD and counseled Swofford throughout.
Credit Swofford, too, for closing the deal with Swarbrick.
“We’re going to have to pick out china pretty soon,” Swarbrick said, deadpan as could be, about all the time he and Swofford spent together.
Swarbrick’s most misinterpreted comment will be his calling the ACC a perfect geographic fit for Notre Dame. At 375 miles, Pittsburgh will become the Irish’s closest ACC colleague, but Notre Dame has always looked East, not only for students and athletes, but also fans, a tradition that dates to 1920s football games against Army in Yankee Stadium and the so-called Subway Alumni.
Joining the ACC takes the Irish to Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Miami, plus Virginia and the Carolinas. Meanwhile, the ACC heads to the Chicago market.
Partial membership for Notre Dame also precludes the need for a 16th ACC school. The conference will remain at 14 for football, with seven-team divisions, and simply add the Irish for basketball and other sports, a change that merely tweaks scheduling and league tournaments.
“There's no need to add a 16th team,” Swofford said, “and no intention to do so. From a practical standpoint, it's illogical.”
That only changes on the Root Boy Slim chance that Notre Dame finds football independence untenable and joins all-in.
Last September, Swofford called the ACC’s additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse “monumental.” He used the same word Wednesday.
He was right then. He is more right now.
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