SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 22: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish watches along with his team as the Irish take on the Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Stadium on September 22, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: August 2, 2013 7:03AM
Notre Dame officially will join the Atlantic Coast Conference on Monday, but athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the date is less of a trigger than one might think.
‘‘We’ve already attended conference meetings; we’re all fully engaged in the conference,’’ Swarbrick said in a recent phone interview. ‘‘It’s really about looking forward to the season.’’
Notre Dame will become an ACC member for most sports. Football and hockey are exceptions. The Irish will remain independent in football but will play five games a season against ACC schools starting in 2014. The hockey team will join Hockey East.
A number of factors led Notre Dame down a path that includes stops on Tobacco Road.
‘‘A huge one was cultural fit,’’ Swarbrick said. ‘‘We just felt like there was a real mission alignment between the way we approach college athletics and the way members of the ACC did. . . . The other factors were the instability of the Big East and our concerns about its future. And our strong interest in having more postseason options, more bowl affiliations, that we were able to achieve through this. Those were the three factors.
‘‘The big one was the fit with the schools. Part of that was the geography. We have always been eastern in our orientation at Notre Dame. We love that this conference stretches from Boston to Miami and all through the mid-Atlantic.’’
Notre Dame announced its move to the ACC on Sept. 12.
‘‘The ACC staff and schools could not be more accommodating,’’ Swarbrick said. ‘‘They’ve been such great partners in working through scheduling issues and scheduling formats. It’s just been a real delight.’’
Syracuse and Pittsburgh also are making the move to the ACC from the Big East, which the Irish had called home since 1995. Louisville will join the ACC in 2014, and Maryland will move to the Big Ten.
Swarbrick echoed a quote from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, saying the ACC is set up to be the best conference in the history of college basketball.
‘‘I don’t think college basketball has ever seen anything like it, in both men’s and women’s,’’ Swarbrick said.
But the buzz doesn’t end with basketball.
‘‘From the day of the announcement, in the athletic department, the enthusiasm has been off the charts,’’ Swarbrick said. ‘‘You can go across our sports. This is the level of competition you want. This is going to be the best lacrosse conference in the country. This is the best men’s and women’s soccer conference in the country, and the list goes on and on.
‘‘There’s great enthusiasm across the board among our coaches. Our coaches and student-athletes want that challenge, and they are looking forward to it.’’