Notre Dame will be partnering with the ACC for the upcoming college football season but according to the school's athletic director, the decision was made due to the coronavirus pandemic rather than "Notre Dame's long-term assessment of independence."
"This is just an unprecedented and extraordinary year, and you recognize that going in," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN. "Could we have constructed a schedule without this? Yes, but given the uncertainties that everybody faces, you couldn't exactly be sure what you have. There was a greater level of control and certainty if we could do this with the ACC than if we had just constructed the schedule ourselves."
The ACC's adjusted schedule was approved by the conference's board of directors Wednesday, which allows Notre Dame and the conference's schools to play 10 interconference games, plus one out-of-conference game of their choosing. Notre Dame will be allowed to compete for the ACC title. Currently, Notre Dame has several games scheduled against non-ACC opponents, including Arkansas, Navy and Western Michigan.
Conference-only scheduling is a trend that many conferences have been following, with the SEC reportedly considering a similar strategy. After all, with COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down, many have wondered if college football should be happening at all. Swarbrick acknowledged that the fate of the college season was very much dependent on the pandemic. He also said that while Notre Dame has no plans of giving up its independence, the school was "very appreciative of [ACC] commissioner Swofford."