September has been a mark of mass exodus for the Big East.
Notre Dame rekindled the conference-realignment fire when it announced Wednesday that all sports — except football and hockey — will leave the Big East and join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Fighting Irish will be the fifth athletics department in a year to leave the Big East, joining Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which left the Big East for the ACC last September; West Virginia, which left for the Big 12 in October; and Texas Christian, which broke off its commitment to the conference last year following the other departures.
Notre Dame must pay the Big East a $5 million exit fee and wait 27 months before leaving.
The Big East has shown it can be flexible, however, for a price.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh negotiated a $7.5 million exit fee to join the ACC by July 2013.
West Virginia had to pay the Big East a $20 million exit fee to join the Big 12 this year.
The ACC doesn’t offer hockey, so it’s assumed that Notre Dame’s hockey team will stay with its move to the Hockey East conference.
Although the Irish aren’t full members of the ACC, their football schedule will likely be shaken up as well. As part of the agreement, Notre Dame will play five ACC games in football every year.
Considering a school usually plays six to seven conference games a year, five games per year for the Irish is a significant amount to be a “non-member.”
Notre Dame already plays ACC schools Boston College and Wake Forest this season, but it will likely have to shuffle its future schedules to make room for routine opponents like USC, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Stanford.
The ACC announced in February divisions for a 14-team basketball league, but now with Notre Dame, the conference’s future is etched in at 15 basketball programs.
In the theme of conference realignment, the ACC also announced an increase in its exit fees for the conference’s schools to three times the annual operation budget, which would currently be more than $50 million, ESPN.com reported.