The Notre Dame Fighting Irish may be moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference sooner than you think. Big East commissioner Mike Aresco acknowledged that Notre Dame has engaged the conference in talks on an early departure that would allow the Fighting Irish join the ACC for the 2013-14 sports calendar. Aresco acknowledged the proverbial smoke, but tried to keep the fire under wraps. He described the early exit talks to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune as "very preliminary."
But make no mistake, there is plenty of smoke. Aresco certainly left the door open for Notre Dame's early departure:
"Notre Dame has expressed interest in at least discussing leaving early. We'll have a discussion about it. (Athletic director) Jack (Swarbrick) wasn't sure what they were going to do at this point. He and I are going to have some discussions regarding that, but nobody has said, 'We definitely want to do 'X,' or we definitely want to do 'Y.' We'll adhere to the bylaws, and if there is a desire to do something sooner, then obviously it would have to be something we could agree to."
There is a 27-month wait period for a conference change mandated by Big East bylaws, but Notre Dame has already agreed to join the ACC and they announced the move back on Sept. 12. The Irish have been busy planning for the shift, recently opting out of their contract with Michigan to knock 2015, 2016, and 2017 matchups off the schedule.
West Virginia reached an agreement on an early exit from the Big East that includes a $20 million fee, so there is precedent for such a move in the Big East.