September 17, 2012

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ACC Makes Right Move With Notre Dame Addition

By: Anson Whaley

When the ACC added Notre Dame to their conference for all sports except football last week, fans were immediately wondering if it was the right move. Ordinarily, adding a university of Notre Dame’s prestige would be a slam dunk. However, since the school refused to include its historic football program, many wondered if the invitation should have been extended.

Rest assured ACC fans, your conference made the right move.

Many ACC teams will be making the trip to South Bend in future seasons.

It’s relatively easy to create an argument about Notre Dame’s ability to remain an independent and still being able to compete in big time bowl games. But the fact is that the Irish still bring quite a bit to the table. One of the main goals of conferences is to bring in revenue for its members and this deal will surely do that.

For one thing, the partnership with Notre Dame includes five football games with ACC members each year. That’s practically half of a season and while the Irish aren’t officially a conference member for football, playing that many games with ACC teams will make it feel like that’s the case. More importantly, those games will mean a nice revenue boost for each team. Notre Dame travels incredibly well and they have fans in practically every pocket of the country. Ticket sales will increase for schools that don’t typically sell out their entire season in advance and programs will even be able to charge a bit more for tickets by having the Irish on the slate. And not only will concessions see a nice increase from having more fans in attendance, the communities will even benefit with additional revenue from fans staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.

Then there are the bowl tie-ins. While it’s true that Notre Dame will be able to take the place of ACC teams in some of the conference’s bowl games, simply by having the Irish as part of prospective deals will mean the conference should get better opportunities. Bowl games change conference allegiances fairly regularly and by tying in Notre Dame, many bowl games will jump at the chance to partner with the ACC. Along the same lines, the ACC will be able to negotiate better media deals in the future with Notre Dame on board. Having the Irish on board will mean bigger deals for broadcast rights for games and that means more money in the pockets of each university.

Further, adding Notre Dame’s other sports is a coup for the conference as well. Their men’s basketball program is a steady participant in the NCAA Tournament. The women’s basketball program is even better, regularly challenging for the National Championship. The fencing team and women’s soccer team have brought home recent NCAA titles and the hockey team and men’s soccer program have also been to Final Fours as well. Simply put, Notre Dame is more than just a football school when it comes to athletics.

Recruiting should also experience a slight bump as prospective collegiate athletes will jump at the chance to play against Notre Dame. Better recruiting means better teams and it’s not a stretch to think that programs won’t be able to benefit at least a little with recruits wanting to face the Irish.

And while Notre Dame will fight off joining a conference for football as long as they possibly can, chances are that someday the Irish will need to find a permanent home and leave the independent ranks. That’s particularly true if college football ever decides to install a mandate forcing independents to join a conference in order to be eligible for the new four-team playoff. While the ACC wouldn’t be guaranteed to secure the services of the Irish, they should have the leg up on most because of their past dealings with Notre Dame. This move is about positioning for the future just as it is for improving the present state.

Some fans are worried that by allowing Notre Dame to join the conference for other sports but remaining independent for football that they’re getting special treatment. That’s absolutely true. But the ACC will benefit tremendously from this deal and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.