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Irish Insights

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Notre Dame conference future in limbo

Notre Dame remains in a state of limbo as to where its sports programs, other than football, will play next season.

The Irish announced in September that they will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in every sport except football and hockey, but they had planned to play in the Big East at least one more season.

That plan became complicated with the Catholic basketball schools – DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova – decided to break away from the conference. An announcement that the Catholic schools will begin their own league on July 1 is expected this week.

"I think we are in a very crucial 48 hours right now," Irish men's basketball coach Mike Brey said during a teleconference Wednesday. "I know my boss (athletic director Jack Swarbrick) is staying closely tuned to it. He hasn't given me any updates lately. He said don't even talk about in depth, because we don't know how it is going to swing. I have a feeling we may know something here by the time we head to New York for the Big East tournament early next week (the tournament begins Tuesday)."

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the football-playing schools – Connecticut, South Florida, Cincinnati, Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, SMU and Houston – will split about $100 million of a $110 million pot when the Catholic schools leave the conference with the Big East name, the right to play a conference tournament in Madison Square Garden and $10 million to split.

As for Notre Dame, it is stuck between staying with the football schools in a yet-to-be named league, join the Catholic seven and likely Butler and Xavier for one year in the new Big East or negotiate a way out of the league and join the ACC next season. The Irish have to give the Big East a 27-month notice before leaving to not have to pay an exit fee.

ESPN reported Wednesday that a source said the ACC is ready to let Notre Dame join the league this summer. A source also told ESPN that the Big East previously offered Notre Dame the chance for an earlier exit if the Irish would schedule future football games against Big East opponents.

But Notre Dame doesn't have opening in its future football schedule because of the deal with the ACC to schedule five games each season with the conference's team starting in 2014.

"I don't even want to think about it, I'm exhausted by it," Brey said. "The ACC is going to be great for us whenever we get there. Who knows, are we able to get there earlier than we though? I think by Monday it is going to be quite interesting, because they are in crunch time."

Brey said current players have not asked about the program's future conference home, but it has been a subject that potential recruits have brought up with the coaching staff.

"I don't like having to discuss or explain that," Brey said of conversation with recruits about the Irish's conference future, "some finality would be great."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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