ACC expansion press conference

ACC expansion press conference transcript: Notre Dame membership.

JOHN SWOFFORD: First of all, good afternoon and thank you for joining us. This is truly a historic moment for the Atlantic Coast Conference. With me here today are members of the ACC Council of Presidents as we are concluding our annual fall meeting that this year was held in Chapel Hill.

I'm joined on the dais by University of North Carolina Chancellor Holden Thorp, the current chair of our Council of Presidents, as well as Clemson University President Jim Barker and Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch On behalf of the ACC Council of Presidents, it is my distinct pleasure to announce Notre Dame as the 15th member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. And with us today from the University of Notre Dame are President Father John Jenkins and Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick. Welcome to you both.

The ACC was founded on the cornerstones of balancing academics and athletics and integrity, and the addition of Notre Dame only strengthens this longstanding commitment that this league has. Academically Notre Dame enhances the league's unique blend of public and private institutions that are international in scope. As an example, of the ACC's future 15-member league, 11 schools rank among the top 58 institutions in the recently released 2013 U.S. News & World Report survey of America's best colleges. That is more than any other conference also competing at the highest level athletically.

In terms of athletics, the Irish have marquee programs that boast great tradition and great success. In addition, the collective alumni and fan bases of our conference will become even stronger while covering the entire country with exceptionally strong roots up and down the Atlantic Coast.

The ACC's Council of Presidents has done a terrific job throughout this process, and I would like to thank them for their solidarity, their vision, their professionalism, and their diligence in getting us to this point today. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the membership committee, our "4-4-4" committee, that is made up of four presidents, athletic directors, and faculty representatives. Again, let me say how pleased we are to have the University of Notre Dame join the Atlantic Coast Conference. This is indeed a monumental day in the history of our league.

And at this time I'd like to welcome Chancellor Holden Thorp, the chair of the ACC Council of Presidents, to the podium for a few remarks. Chancellor.

HOLDEN THORP: Thank you, John. As John said, I'm Holden Thorp, and I'm the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also this year serving as chair of the Council of Presidents for the Atlantic Coast Conference. And we're delighted to host our meeting here the last couple of days. And this is indeed an exceptional day for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Father Jenkins and Jack, we are so glad to have you with us. And on behalf of my colleagues, welcome.

We are delighted to have Notre Dame join the league, an institution whose mission embodies the rich tradition and culture of the ACC.

I would like to take this opportunity to also thank President Jim Barker and Nathan Hatch who played integral roles on behalf of the council in making today's announcement a reality.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is a vibrant and competitive league, and we will continue to be dedicated to the values and principles upon which this league was formed 60 years ago.

It is with great enthusiasm that we make this announcement today. And, again, welcome.

JOHN SWOFFORD: Chancellor, thank you. And at this time please join me in welcoming our newest member led by Father John Jenkins, President of the University of Notre Dame. Father Jenkins.

FATHER JOHN JENKINS: The University of Notre Dame is extraordinarily proud to join this great athletic conference composed of such outstanding institutions of higher education. I want to personally thank Chancellor Thorp, John Swofford, President Nathan Hatch, and President Jim Barker and all the ACC presidents for allowing us to continue traditions in football that go back nearly a century while being a part of this great conference.

You know, at Notre Dame, athletics are important in themselves and also through our history have allowed us to enrich the institution as a whole. Our partnership, with the superb institutions of the ACC, will enhance greatly the University of Notre Dame as a whole. And Notre Dame is fully committed to enhancing the ACC and its member institutions.

Thank you very much, and I'd like to introduce someone who has worked very hard and very skillfully to bring us to this day, our director of athletics, Jack Swarbrick.

JACK SWARBRICK: I'm not sure I could imagine a more appropriate setting for this announcement than this venue. In my first year as a director of athletics at Notre Dame, we played here. And as I in the pregame period walked campus with my family -- I had not visited here before, so we took the opportunity to walk around -- I was struck by how much the atmosphere was like it was at our home games, how welcoming people were as they identified us as visitors and part of the Notre Dame family.

It's that welcoming nature. It's that same approach toward athletics and its role in a university that makes us so pleased to be here today.

Sports has always played a very specific role at Notre Dame. It has two functions: one is to contribute to the education of students, and the other is to promote the university. This partnership helps us do both very effectively. By joining such a prestigious group of universities who share our commitment to athletics as an educational vehicle, not as something secondary to the mission of education, but as something core to it, we will further the education of our student-athletes.

And by being part of a conference with such a perfect geographic fit for us, we are able to effectively promote our university. For example, in the next five years, in part because of this great partnership, we'll be able to be in 10 of the 11 largest cities in America with our football program to help promote our university. And that's what we think it should do: Promote the educational mission. The competitive result is also great. I met this morning with our coaches and informed them for the first time of what would happen. And their reaction was very positive.

Coach Brey, our head basketball coach, very familiar with this part of the world, has joined us today. And what they were especially excited about was the competitive implications for that. I think unquestionably, in a host of sports, this is the best athletic conference in the country, and we'll only make it better in that regard. Importantly, this is a story of moving to something great, not away from something. We are very thankful for the opportunity to have been a member of the Big East. We will continue to be a committed member during the remainder of our stay in that conference, and it has been a good home for us.

But for the reasons I stated, this creates a new and exciting opportunity for us to advance even further, to serve the mission of athletics at Notre Dame.

And in that regard we are very thankful to this conference and its leadership, to Presidents Thorp and Barker and Hatch who played such an important role to make this possible. Special thanks to Commissioner Swofford. He and I have spent a lot of time together in the past two years -- we're going to have to pick out china soon, I think -- with all the BCS meetings we attended, and it was a natural byproduct of the relationship we built through that process that these discussions began.

And special thanks from my perspective to the leadership of our university. The university presidents would always be rather doing something other than athletics, but Father Jenkins has been such a great partner to me in working through the difficult issues related to all of this. And to him, our executive leadership, and especially our board of trustees, I say thank you.

On behalf of the coaches and student-athletes of the University of Notre Dame, we thank you and give you our commitment to be a great member of this great conference. Thank you.

JOHN SWOFFORD: Thank you, Father; thank you, Jack. I feel as a commissioner I've got the best group of presidents that any commissioner in this country could have. They're terrific to work with. They obviously have vision; they have strength; they have wisdom.

And I'm going to call one of them up to speak with you that's had a great deal to do with these discussions, but before I do so, let me also acknowledge and introduce presidents -- President Charles Steger from Virginia Tech who is with us and President Eric Barron of Florida State University who is still with us.

During these discussions there were two presidents that spent a great deal of time on this, were in a great deal of discussions with me, were in discussions at times with Father Jenkins and with Jack Swarbrick, and what an incredible job they did. And I'd like to ask Nathan Hatch, the president of Wake Forest University, to come up and offer remarks. He and Jim Barker were just absolutely outstanding during this process. President Hatch.

NATHAN HATCH: Thank you, John. I've had a distinct and privileged history with deep roots both in the Atlantic Coast Conference and with the University of Notre Dame. The Hatch family actually has roots 15 miles south of here, Pittsboro, that go back to the 18th century. My father is a Duke graduate, and I grew up in the heart of ACC country.

But I was also privileged to serve for a number of years as faculty member, dean, and provost at Notre Dame. And so on a personal level I think this coming together, having Notre Dame as a new member of the ACC, is so terrific.

And let me just mention two things. As has been said, Notre Dame and the institutions of the Atlantic Coast Conference believe in the balance of academics, athletics, and integrity. We believe in doing athletics right. We're committed to that. We're committed to the well-being of student-athletes. And together I think we can even do a better job towards that end.

The other thing is academics. We are universities, after all, and Notre Dame like the members of the Atlantic Coast Conference are serious about becoming better universities. And I think the addition of Notre Dame will help our academic collaborative as we together try to say how can we help each other in our important missions on behalf of students.

So on behalf of the ACC family, its institutions, and its many fans, let me welcome the family of the Fighting Irish. And particularly Father Jenkins, welcome indeed.

THE MODERATOR: We have time for a brief Q&A.

Q. Commissioner Swofford, there's been a lot of discussion over the years about the importance of full membership to the ACC. So I guess how much of -- how tough of a decision was it to sort of, I guess, go against that tradition, I guess?

JOHN SWOFFORD: In the end, I don't know that it was tough. But I do think that it's certainly significant in the sense that we're in our 60th year as a conference.

And we have always been an all-in, if you will, membership. And in more recent years we've discussed this with a changing landscape out there in intercollegiate athletics, a changing world.

And Jim Barker, I think, said it best in one of our discussions about this and talking about that change. You know, what was best 20 years ago isn't necessarily best in today's world. And we talked about crossing that threshold and took that very seriously in our discussions.

And, as I said, that was not the first -- this was not the first time we've had those discussions. So I think that transition in thinking evolved over a period of time. I had a number of conversations with Gene Corrigan, my predecessor who I had great respect for, and Gene has the distinction of having been the athletic director at Notre Dame as well as the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference. And so I think it just came through our internal discussions as now is the time and this is a partnership that is a win-win and good for both parties and the time had come to cross that threshold.

FATHER JOHN JENKINS: If I could just piggyback on that, the University of Notre Dame has an identity that was formed over a long period, from the days of Rockne. We have more fans in Massachusetts and New York and Ohio than in Indiana. We're proud to be in Indiana. We didn't feel we could give that up without losing our identity in some way, and we're just deeply grateful to the ACC who have been such great partners in recognizing that.

But I just want to say emphatically and clearly, that aside, we're all-in in the ACC. We're committed to this conference for athletic purposes, but even more deeply, as Nathan Hatch articulated, for the affinity of institutions and the affinity of values that exist.

So on behalf of Notre Dame, I want everyone to understand we're deeply committed to the ACC.

Q. One of the main issues of the all-in situation is the television contracts, the various agreements that are obviously going to go through a certain year. Do you revisit it in 2015 or '16, both in terms of television contracts and Notre Dame possibly ever coming in as a football member?

JOHN SWOFFORD: In terms of the television contracts, yes, we will revisit that. We've had some preliminary conversations with our television partners that would be prudent to do so. We do think that this arrangement will enhance our television product and has value with our television product.

Notre Dame obviously will remain with their television contractual agreements for football and for hockey, but in all other sports will be a full participant in the Atlantic Coast Conference from a TV standpoint.

They will keep their football television revenue. The ACC will keep its television revenue. We'll be playing in football five games every season rotating: one year three would be ACC games, two would be Notre Dame games, and then reversing that the following year. So that will come into play. So we'll finalize that as we move forward with our discussions with our television partner.

Q. John, is there a timetable for this? Obviously you've got Pitt and Syracuse coming in next year, and then as long as Notre Dame's not a full football member, is there a need to add a 16th team to the league?

JOHN SWOFFORD: There is no need to add a 16th team to the league, and there's no intention of doing so. In fact, from a practical standpoint, it really is illogical.

And by that I mean we'll be 15 members. In basketball we'll have a 15-team playing lineup. We're not in divisions in basketball. In football we'll be 14, with two even divisions. Obviously if we brought a 16th member in, then that causes an imbalance in our football divisions. So we will be a 15-team league.

Timetable is really up to Notre Dame and the Big East conference. As we said and did with Syracuse and Pitt, we'll respect whatever is appropriate in terms of Notre Dame's departure from the Big East, and we will welcome them as soon as they're able to join us.

Q.The timetable is a few years out. What is it, Jack?

JACK SWARBRICK: Under the current arrangement it would be the '15-'16 season, but we'll meet our obligations to the Big East and have discussions about whether there's any opportunity to accelerate that.

Q. You mentioned about being all-in. Does the new exit fee -- does that apply to Notre Dame, and when does that go into effect?

JOHN SWOFFORD: It does apply to Notre Dame, and it goes into effect immediately. Q. John, is there a framework in place for them to join in football in terms of like a trigger? Like if the BCS changes the playoff format, is that a trigger that sort of automatically will have set up where Notre Dame will join in football?

JOHN SWOFFORD: Kevin, I was trying to find you and I didn't hear the entirety of the question. Do you mind asking it again?

Q. Is there a trigger or a framework in place of like if the BCS changes, if the college football playoff ever expands, that Notre Dame will automatically join in football?

JOHN SWOFFORD: No. There's not. I think what you've heard from Notre Dame is that they would assess their situation once the postseason football was clearer. And that's what Jack and I spent a lot of time together trying to do over the last six months or so with the help of a lot of other people.

And now that that is clear, I think that gave some definition to Notre Dame's future vision and the decisions they would want to make.

But the answer to your question simply is no, there is no such thing.

Q. For Father Jenkins and Mr. Swarbrick, you're popular guys with other conferences, too. Did this ever come close to fruition with another conference?

FATHER JOHN JENKINS: Well, I'll let Jack speak that I don't think there's out there a better situation than the situation we have. As I said, the ACC has allowed us to retain a tradition that's so central to our identity in football while we're joining a conference that athletically as well as academically fits Notre Dame perfectly.

I just don't think there's a better option out there than the situation we have. It wasn't a tough decision.

Q. Jack, the time frame is still out there, but has there been discussions about the distribution and how it will differ between Notre Dame and the other schools not being a football member? And I guess it's for John as well.

JACK SWARBRICK: The distribution being the -- revenue distribution? Q. Revenue distribution, yeah.

JACK SWARBRICK: Well, as John indicated, we'll keep the revenue associated with our football and hockey broadcast agreements. We will otherwise have a member's share of the non-football element of the ACC's, and for participation purposes, whether it's the NCAA basketball tournament or anything else, we'll be like any other member.

Q. How much less would it be than the full distribution for each school?

JACK SWARBRICK: Has that been determined?

JOHN SWOFFORD: As I mentioned in terms of football television revenues, the ACC's stays in the ACC among the 14 -- 12 -- soon to be 14 schools. And Notre Dame keeps their football revenue through NBC.

When games are in South Bend or at a neutral site that is a Notre Dame home game, then that's theirs. When a game is in an ACC stadium or a neutral site that we are hosting, then ESPN, because of our contractual arrangement with them, would have access to televise those games and the revenue would remain in the ACC.

In terms of basketball, basically the way this will work is that there will now be 15 shares. By agreement we designate 80 percent of our television revenues to football, 20 percent to basketball. So Notre Dame will receive 1/15th of 20 percent for their basketball participation and Olympic sport participation.

Q. I was wondering if you think the arrangement with Notre Dame and football potentially paves the way for other schools to negotiate their own revenue deals in other sports such as Duke and North Carolina in basketball.


Q. Looking to the future, how big is the hurdle for Notre Dame to -- the financial hurdle for Notre Dame to be able to come into the ACC without suffering a financial penalty? How much does Notre Dame receive annually right now for its football rights, and what is the revenue per school for the football rights in the ACC? And while I have the mic, how will this affect the tournament schedule for basketball? How will that be lined up?

JOHN SWOFFORD: I can't speak to the first part of the question. JACK SWARBRICK: Relative to the first part, I'd just say this wasn't a financial decision. It's financially neutral for us, and we don't foresee that changing anytime in the future.

JOHN SWOFFORD: In terms of us, we'll be in discussions with our television partner, because there's some games of value that will be added to our inventory there. And so I think there will be some enhancement to that. We'll have to wait and see exactly what that will be. Obviously we feel positively about that in terms of our analysis and, as I said earlier, how we look at that and evaluate it going forward.

And in terms of the tournament, we're looking at -- with 14 members we were looking at how to do the basketball tournament. It will require Wednesday games and would have been two, now there will be three. And in all likelihood the top four seeds will receive byes.

Q. How will the contract bowl, the Orange Bowl, be affected by this, and is there a scenario where the ACC would be playing against Notre Dame in such a bowl?

JOHN SWOFFORD: Good question. The way the Bowl situation will work, and I think this is something very positive for both of us, another win-win, that's a part of the bigger picture win-win, Notre Dame -- and we're not through with the discussions on this -- but in all probability Notre Dame will be one of multiple potential participants on the opponent's side of the Orange Bowl. The ACC will keep all of its Orange Bowl revenues as a contract game that comes straight to the ACC. It does not go into the BCS revenue sharing pot, so to speak. And the team that plays us has the same situation on the other side.

So there is the possibility of an ACC-Notre Dame Orange Bowl in addition to the five-per-season ACC-Notre Dame football games.

Notre Dame would keep all of any revenues that it generated from playing in any one of the other five BCS games. The ACC would keep its revenues from those games that go into the sharing pot actually.

Below the BCS, Notre Dame will be a part of the ACC Bowl lineup and in that sense will basically become an ACC team in our Bowl structure and Bowl lineup. There will be a provision in which for Notre Dame to be selected over an ACC team at the point of selection, another eligible ACC team, that Notre Dame would have to be ranked higher, equal to, or in the win column, be within one win of any ACC teams that are also eligible to be picked.

So if an ACC team were 10-2 and Notre Dame were 8-4, they could not be selected for that particular Bowl at that point of selection. But if they had nine wins, they would be eligible for the Bowl picking to take Notre Dame. Q. How much do you think this just solidifies the ACC in terms of quashing rumors that other schools might be interested in leaving?

JOHN SWOFFORD: I think when you consider Notre Dame coming into the league and the attractiveness of that, and the excitement that our schools have for that and what it brings tangibly as well as optically, and you combine that with what our presidents have done in terms of the exit fee, I don't know why there would be any rumors. Top Stories