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Notre Dame moving to ACC without football program

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The storied athletic programs at the University of Notre Dame are headed for the Atlantic Coast Conference, according to reports - but the famed Fighting Irish football team is not among them on a full-time basis.

As first reported by ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Notre Dame, whose football team is independent and its remaining athletic programs are a member of the Big East Conference, will join the ACC "as soon as it can exit the Big East."

The move allows the Irish to maintain football independence, while the ACC is making an exception to its all-or-nothing requirement for schools to be full members. ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement the move was "a terrific milestone in the evolution of the ACC and showcases tremendous solidarity and vision by our Council of Presidents."

The ACC said Wednesday the school will play five football games annually against the league's programs, but will be a full member in all other sports. It was not clear when the realignment will take effect. The ACC scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C., while Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick will also hold a press conference in South Bend, Ind.

Along with inviting Notre Dame, the ACC also says it has increased its exit fees for the conference's schools to three times the annual operation budget - which would currently come to more than $50 million.

Notre Dame's exit from the Big East is the latest in an exodus of programs from the beleaguered conference. West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 this season, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse are set to both join the ACC in the coming years.

In the ACC, the Irish will face traditional powers like Duke, North Carolina and the league also fits the sports Notre Dame is competitive in, including: lacrosse and soccer.

"The ACC is composed of some of the most highly respected universities in the country, and we at Notre Dame look forward to joining them," said Notre Dame President, Rev. John Jenkins. "With a mix of institutions - many of which are also private, similar to Notre Dame in size, and committed to excellence in research and undergraduate education - the ACC is an exceptionally good fit for us academically, as well as athletically."

The Big East typically forces programs who wish to leave the conference to give 27 months notice of their intent to leave for another league.

Notre Dame's football program, perhaps the most storied team in the sport, have won 11 national championships. The program, though, has never been affiliated with a major conference, opting to schedule all of its own games on an independent basis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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