RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Unlike in 2003 when the Atlantic Coast Conference expanded to include Virginia Tech, the Governor of Virginia played no role in the ACC's most recent expansion. Today Notre Dame announced it would leave the Big East and join the ACC.
"I had nothing to do with it," joked Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Governor McDonnell graduated from Notre Dame in 1976 with a management degree.
The governor called the move "interesting" and said he was excited to see Notre Dame play more games in Virginia. The Irish would travel to the Commonwealth to compete against ACC-members Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.
In 2003, Virginia Governor Mark Warner applied political pressure to secure Virginia Tech an invitation to join U.Va. in the ACC.
Despite his excitement, Governor McDonnell said he was surprised by Notre Dame's move.
"They're not exactly in the Atlantic Coast geography being from Indiana," he said.
During an interview with CBS 6 anchor Bill Fitzgerald, Governor McDonnell echoed the sentiments of Notre Dame’s president, who earlier today called the move to the ACC beneficial not only for athletics.
“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,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford said adding Notre Dame to the ACC further expands the conference’s geographic footprint.
“The collective alumni and fan bases cover the entire country with exceptionally strong roots up and down the Atlantic Coast,” he said.
Notre Dame's move to the ACC will include all sports with the exception of football. and hockey. Under the agreement, Notre Dame would remain independent and play football against five ACC schools each season.
The Notre Dame hockey team will move to Hockey East after a final season in 2012-13 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The ACC does not have a hockey league.
Notre Dame said it would work with the Big East and ACC to figure out when the transition can take place.