Notre Dame athletic director says there's no 'urgency' to reconsider independent status
Despite widespread speculation that Notre Dame may join a conference at some point in the (near) future, the Fighting Irish are evidently standing pat.
While the Big Ten and ACC are presumably courting the independent giant behind the scenes, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN this week that the program doesn’t feel any urgency to join a conference.
“We don’t feel any particular urgency,” Swarbrick told ESPN’s Heather Dinich. “We think there’s ample time for us to let the landscape settle.”
That landscape certainly remains unsettled in the wake of USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. The Big 12, which lost Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC last summer, and the Pac-12 are both in flux. Oregon and Washington remain on the board as potential longterm targets for another conference, too.
There’s also the ACC’s role in all this — and its reported negotiations for a unique television arrangement with the Pac-12. As for the current ACC teams, they’re bound to the conference by an ironclad grant of rights agreement that runs through 2036.
Notre Dame’s non-football programs are also bound to that agreement, although it’s unclear what a potential exit fee would look like. That could be playing a role in Notre Dame’s lack of “urgency” to choose a conference.
However, Swarbrick did lay out the factors that could eventually lead Notre Dame to joining a conference.
“The three things that would make continuing as an independent unsustainable would be the loss of a committed broadcast partner, the loss of a fair route into the postseason, or such an adverse financial consequence that you had to reconsider,” Swarbrick told ESPN.
Notre Dame’s television contract with NBC runs through 2025.