On October 24, 2011, Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reported there is speculation about the University of Notre Dame joining the Big 12 Conference in sports other than football. Currently, Notre Dame is a member of the Big East but the conference is facing uncertainty due to losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Notre Dame has also been mentioned as a possible addition to the ACC but those rumors have subsided since ACC Commissioner John Swofford stated the ACC was a “all-in, revenue sharing conference” which would seemingly eliminate football independent Notre Dame from contention. The Big 12, on the other hand, would be accommodating to Notre Dame’s NBC contract and football independence in return for non-conference football games with the Irish and what may result in increased conference membership stability.
The Michael L. Buckner Law Firm has advised, and continues to recommend, NCAA member institutions conduct annual discussions (among all significant decision makers and stakeholders) on the short- and long-term strategic and tactical needs of the athletics department in several areas, including, but not limited to, competitive success and program development. The implementation of any strategies and tactics in the areas of competitive success and program development may involve or require changes in conference membership. Colleges and universities should be ready to make immediate decisions on conference membership that adheres to a strategic plan if another round of conference re-alignment occurs in the next five years.