CHICAGO -- Mike Aresco is a Catholic, so Notre Dame fans shouldn't read anything into his slip of the tongue Tuesday when discussing the Irish's move from the Big East to the ACC.
"Our feeling is, we’re kind of agnostics at this point," the first-year Big East commissioner said. "We’re happy to have them for three seasons. That’s a good play on words."
Speaking after the Big East's annual presidents meeting at the O'Hare Marriott, Aresco stated that the ball is in Notre Dame's court as it relates to exiting the conference before the end of the official 27-month waiting period.
The Irish announced Sept. 12 that they would be moving all of their Big East sports to the ACC, with a five-game ACC football scheduling agreement likely taking effect in the 2014 season.
"Haven’t had any additional talks with Notre Dame," Aresco said. "As far as we’re concerned they’ll play in the conference for three more seasons. We’re thrilled to have them in the conference for three more seasons. If they have any thought about leaving early, they would really have to approach us.
"I haven’t had any further talks with [athletic director Jack Swarbrick]. We had explored some things that didn’t, frankly, ultimately go very far. At this point the ball is in their court. Right now, we’re just expecting them to be in the conference for three seasons."
Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia were all able to negotiate early departures as part of their exits from the Big East.
Pitt and Syracuse are each paying $7.5 million to join the ACC next season. West Virginia paid $20 million to go to the Big 12 this season.
"We’re happy to have them for three seasons," Aresco said. "If they did want to leave early it would have to be on terms we could agree to. Jack and I have maintained from the beginning — and I met [school president] Father [John] Jenkins this week at the BCS meeting — that it was going to be amicable but we’d have to be satisfied that there was a reasonable solution, a reasonable settlement. And if there wasn’t one, we’re just happy to have them in the conference for the next three seasons."
Aresco said that Swarbrick has told him Notre Dame would be happy to stay through the current deal if an early exit cannot be worked out, adding that it has not affected the Big East's current television negotiations.
"The networks we’re talking to know Notre Dame might be in and might not be in," Aresco said. "They know that even if it’s only for three more seasons. This season is under current contract anyway, and they didn’t play football. There’s no issue. The networks are fully aware of what the situation is. We’ve informed them. I don’t think they base any decisions one way or another. I can’t tell you what they’re thinking but they know the Notre Dame situation."