Notre Dame football remains league-less, for now.
Already a full member of the ACC in everything but football, Notre Dame currently includes four ACC teams on its football schedule each season. But the Irish have been insistent on maintaining its independent status.
“Absolutely not true,” Notre Dame athletic director Swarbrick said Tuesday during the ACC spring meetings about the football team joining the conference. “We love the ACC but we love our relationship the way it is and there hasn’t been any discussion.”
Notre Dame is the only college football team with an exclusive deal a major network, NBC. And the Fighting Irish gets to keep every penny of that lucrative deal. A deal within a conference means sharing the wealth.
Perhaps the rumors heated up because the ACC is preparing to launch it’s own network.
Miami athletics director Blake James said in the Sentinel, “We have a great partner in ESPN and it continues to be on schedule and I’ve got a lot of things to take care of on campus and I’m confident in our partner and I’m confident of the launch in ’19.”
One would have to assume having access to Notre Dame football content certainly would be a bonus to the network.
Why would Notre Dame make the move?
So what are the incentives for the Fighting Irish to join?
Relevance might be the biggest one. Notre Dame has been struggling, albeit by its own high standards. Being in a conference, especially the ACC, might pave a better road for the Irish to a College Football Playoff berth.
But the bigger reason is simple: money. The current contract with NBC runs through 2025 and pays $15 million per year. In 2015, the ACC split $272 million to its 14 members. That total could increase significantly if the ACC Network comes close to the money the SEC Network has generated.
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