Irish AD thrown by Big East chaos

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In light of the Big East's Catholic, basketball-only schools' Saturday announcement that they would break off from the rest of the conference, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick likened his school Monday to a child caught in the middle of a divorce, as the Irish do not yet know whom to negotiate with as they seek a streamlined exit following their September announcement that all sports but football and hockey will compete in the ACC.

"There is a point where I can't have our teams at risk of not knowing what they're doing, and that's probably sooner rather than later," Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick said there have been no exit fee discussions with the Big East, which requires a 27-month waiting period following a decision to leave.

Notre Dame is in the unique position of being a Catholic school that does not play football in the Big East, so it does not know whom to even negotiate an exit with just yet.

The Irish will play five ACC teams a year in football as part of a scheduling agreement that is expected to start in the 2014 season. But they need answers soon in order to plan accordingly for the rest of their sports that are shifting conferences.

"There's a whole bunch of things here that say it's got to get worked out," Swarbrick said. "The media contract expires, and if you're going to go sell a new media agreement, you've got to know what you're selling."

Swarbrick did not blame new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco for the recent fallout from the conference, which, since he was hired in August, lost Notre Dame's non-football sports, Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big Ten. The Big East responded by adding Tulane in all sports and East Carolina in football, the former prompting the basketball schools' recent announced exit.

"I don't think anybody could've predicted this," Swarbrick said. "No one could've foreseen it."