The ACC's Grant of Rights / TV / ACC Network agreement they just signed this week says that Notre Dame football can't join any conference but the ACC for the length of the deal.
That clause was already in the GoR agreement when Notre Dame first joined the ACC. It was extended in language covering the network agreement.
To me, this is one of the "ease in" situations. The first step was switching to the ACC and agreeing to the 5-games vs ACC opponents. The clause that "if we join a conference, it's the ACC."
Going from 0 conference games to 8 was a drastic move the Notre Dame traditionalists would never seriously want to abandon.
Well, as we move toward the fulfillment of this next TV deal... Notre Dame would be looking at trading 3 non-conference games for ACC games in order to get more CFP access. That's not a difficult trade to make.
It's a lot like baseball, where the 1990s idea of "radical realignment" was sacrilege and cost people jobs because AL and NL are separate! Different leagues, rules, president, baseballs and umpires!
But tiny changes occurred over time:
- new teams led to different divisions that changed the schedule
- Milwaukee switching leagues in order to make things work.
- Presidents, Umpires and baseballs are the same as the leagues offices merged into one.
- LIMITED inter-league was introduced.
After a decade of interleague existing, the model changed so teams faced OTHER teams in interleague.
After another decade of interleague, facing all kinds of teams, year-round interleague debuted.
I'm sure the NL DH is next up.
It was slow, incremental change.
Notre Dame is probably going to join the ACC before 2040.