The Big East took another hit on Wednesday when news surfaced that Notre Dame would be leaving the conference to join the ACC for all sports except football and hockey. The Irish will join Syracuse and Pittsburgh as Big East members fleeing the conference for the ACC, but it's still unclear if they will join on the same timetable as the Panthers and Orange. The Big East is currently saying the Irish must provide 27 months notice. Pitt will play its final season in the Big East this year.
The move means that another cornerstone basketball program is leaving, dealing a big blow to one of the original powerhouse hoops conferences. Mike Rutherford of SB Nation discusses how ND's departure affects the Big East on the hardwood:
With Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all hitting the road, the Big East will ultimately have lost a combined eight NCAA Tournament Final Four appearances. Compare that to new members Memphis, Temple, SMU, Houston and Central Florida, who have been combined for just one Final Four appearance since 1985 and zero total national championships.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect in all of this for the Big East is the increased likelihood of even more programs jumping ship.
The ACC is now stuck on the odd number of 15 for basketball, and programs like Connecticut or Georgetown (who would come with the added bonus of not muddying up the football numbers since they are not an FBS program) would seem likely candidates to even that out.
While the Big East is left decimated, the Irish, Panthers, and Orange add to the depth of another historical power conference in basketball, creating new regional rivalries in the ACC. The scariest part of the Irish's departure, as Rutherford notes, is that other cornerstone programs remaining in the Big East will be looking to jump at the first invitation. Thankfully for Pitt fans, the Panthers are safely in and on board in the ACC.
In addition to the three ACC departures, the Big East also lost West Virginia to the Big 12. The Mountaineers promptly exited this summer, winning a battle with Louisville to get a Big 12 invite. Rutherford also writes that the Cardinals, a 2012 Final Four team, will be looking to make a move as soon as there's another round of expansion.