Notre Dame to join ACC

Notre Dame will join the ACC as a full member with the exception of football, but will play five football games annually against ACC teams, the league announced Wednesday morning.

The Irish are currently Big East members in all sports but football. But instability in that league has left the Big East radically different than when Notre Dame first joined.

"We are committed to keeping the Atlantic Coast Conference a vibrant and competitive league dedicated to ensuring the appropriate balance of academics, athletics and integrity," the ACC Council of Presidents said in a joint statement. "The addition of Notre Dame further strengthens the rich tradition and culture of the ACC as well as allowing for future academic collaboration and we enthusiastically welcome them into the league."

ACC commissioner John Swofford said, "The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics, athletics and integrity. Our partnership with Notre Dame only strengthens this long-standing commitment. Notre Dame enhances the league’s unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope. The collective alumni and fan bases cover the entire country with exceptionally strong roots up and down the Atlantic Coast. This is a terrific milestone in the evolution of the ACC and showcases tremendous solidarity and vision by our Council of Presidents."

It had been speculated that Notre Dame would look for another home for its Olympic sports after Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse left the Big East last year. Pitt and Syracuse will join the ACC in 2013, following in the footsteps of former Big East members Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College.

The Big East, meanwhile, has added eight new members and will have 12 schools competing in the league in 2013.

"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."

The Council of Presidents also voted to increase the conference exit fee to three times the league's annual operating budget. Currently this would equate to an exit fee of more than $50 million.