ND’s Swarbrick looks for answers
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – As the myriad legal and practical ramifications of the Big East Conference’s breakup get untangled in the coming weeks and months, Notre Dame is like a child caught in the middle of a divorce.
In September, Notre Dame announced it was taking its non-football sports to the Atlantic Coast Conference and began the process of negotiating an exit date. But with Saturday’s announcement that the Big East’s seven Catholic, non-Football Bowl Subdivision schools were breaking away to form their own league, Notre Dame is officially in limbo, unsure which side to even negotiate with.
So where will Notre Dame play basketball and other non-revenue sports in 2013-14? Athletic director Jack Swarbrick is trying to get answers, but has come up with few so far.
“Those two parties have to divide assets, so it poses the question of who you’re even talking to. Who is the Big East?” Swarbrick said. “Which of the two sides has the name and rights, and who might lay claim to the Notre Dame affiliation going forward? It’s an interesting dynamic to try to figure out where all that is headed. Every day brings new information.”
Like the seven other Catholic schools, Notre Dame will not have to pay an exit fee to the Big East but is subject to a 27-month waiting period, which would come after the 2014-15 season. Swarbrick said negotiations for an earlier exit had revolved around scheduling agreements with schools remaining in the Big East, but those talks stopped within the past two months when he first heard word of a possible split.
Now the league office has bigger issues than Notre Dame: Who gets the Big East name? When will the Catholic schools be allowed to leave? How will tens of millions of dollars in exit fees from outgoing members Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Rutgers be disbursed? And what about the football side, which looks like it will remain together (and perhaps expand) under some name but still doesn’t have a television contract for next year?
“The challenge in this environment is we’re not the focus,” Swarbrick said. “We’re the … [For more on Notre Dame's Swarbrick looks for answers from Big East, click here.]