ACC approves 10-plus-1 schedule, Notre Dame in the fold

The conference's four North Carolina teams will all play each other

Commissioner John Swofford speaks during the ACC's Football Kickoff event in Charlotte in 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Notre Dame will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season as part of a plan to play 10 league games and start the week of Sept. 7, alterations brought on by the pandemic.

The ACC’s university presidents approved a plan Wednesday for an 11-game schedule, including one nonconference game, and for pushing back the league championship game from Dec. 5 to either Dec. 12 or 19.

The conference’s four North Carolina teams will all play each other, with each having two games at home and two on the road for the interstate round robin. UNC and Wake Forest will both host Notre Dame, while Duke will play in South Bend. NC State will play neither Notre Dame nor Clemson.

“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “The Board’s decision presents a path, if public health guidance allows, to move forward with competition.

“Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate the return in a safe and responsible manner. We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”

Notre Dame will be playing in a football conference for the first time in the 133-year history of the proudly independent program — if the season is played. The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to wipe out the fall season, but the biggest conferences are taking steps to try to mitigate potential disruptions to keep football on the slate.

Notre Dame’s 10-game ACC schedule includes Clemson at home. The school and the league agreed to equally share TV revenue – including the Fighting Irish’s deal with NBC as an independent – among the 15 schools.

Here’s a sampling of reaction from the four state schools:

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham;

‘I just think it’s great to have kids back on campus and have some schedule ahead of us, something to look forward to. … To have 10 conference games that we can play, plus one, gives our student-athletes something to think about, something to practice for and gives the rest of the student body something to do. And we’ll have to figure out how to do that safely.”

NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan:

“Today’s decision provides a path forward, if safe and responsible circumstances permit, for fall sports to occur,” State athletic director Boo Corrigan said. “There has been a great deal of time spent and conversation to reach this point and we’ll continue that in the weeks ahead.”

Wake Forest athletic director John Currie:

“Since March, our student-athletes have told me nearly on a daily basis how badly they want to be back on campus to work on their academic studies and compete with their teammates. Today’s announcement by the Atlantic Coast Conference is an important step towards providing our student-athletes with the opportunity to resume competition this fall. The mental and physical health and safety of our student-athletes is our foremost priority, and Wake Forest Athletics is fully supportive of the league’s decision requiring all opponents to commit to meeting the ACC-standard COVID-19 health and safety protocols.”