The South Bend Tribune weighs in: http://www.southbendtribune.com/stories/2003/09/25/sports.20030925-sbt-MICH-B1-Will_ACC_landscape_i.sto
September 25, 2003
Will ACC landscape include Notre Dame?
By TOM NOIE
Tribune Staff Writer
SOUTH BEND -- News regarding the Atlantic Coast Conference and its desire for an annual conference championship football game has again unwrapped whispers that sat silent since early summer.
Clemson University athletic director Terry Don Phillips told the Anderson (S.C) Independent Mail on Tuesday that the NCAA has informally rejected the league's request for a championship game beginning in 2004.
Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech will both bolt the Big East next fall for the ACC to give the league 11 teams. NCAA rules mandate that conferences must have at least 12 members for a championship game, which is often worth as much as $10 million in additional revenue.
"I think (adding a 12th team) would be where we need to go, if in fact we want the championship game," Phillips is quoted as saying.
Some insist that the 12th team should be Notre Dame.
Others hypothesize that the Irish will join the ACC in all sports, with the promise to play a handful of conference games before coming aboard as a full-fledged football member in the coming years.
While a new round of rumors makes its way through Dixie and up the Atlantic seaboard, Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White remains silent on the subject. White simply believes that there is no news worthy of his words.
"We aren't going to comment on this situation until something becomes official relative to Notre Dame," said associate athletic director John Heisler.
White has indicated through university statements relative to conference affiliation that his wish is for Notre Dame to remain in the Big East, a relationship that dates back to 1995.
Notre Dame's head coaches have also chosen not to comment on this situation.
On Wednesday, the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported that the ACC has held discussions with Notre Dame regarding conference affiliation. The story quotes anonymous sources as saying league commissioner John Swofford has "expressed a willingness" to adding Notre Dame within the next two years.
Bringing the Notre Dame football program into a league, be it for partial or full membership, is a topic not yet open to dialogue.
"That's not a priority at this point," Heisler said. "But Kevin would be the first to agree that that might not make sense for ever and ever."
As for the foreseeable future?
"We've been inclined to keep the football aspect of our athletic program status quo," Heisler said. "Our alumni and fans feel very strongly about that."
An open offer from Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese to bring Notre Dame football aboard full-time has stood for years. The commissioner admitted in early July that the possibility of Notre Dame ever joining his league was but a dream.
Big East school presidents are scheduled to meet on Nov. 4. At that time, Tranghese could unveil expansion plans, which would likely include invitations extended to Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and Marquette.
The four would give the Big East 16 schools -- eight that play football, eight others that don't.
Even that plan is open to plenty of possibilities. With Miami's departure, the league may prefer to maintain a presence in Florida, which adds Central Florida and South Florida as options.
"It's just so darn complicated," Heisler said. "It's not a simple thing."
Staff writer Tom Noie: