As of Friday, provided negotiations don't plod along at sub-glacial speeds, Notre Dame almost assuredly will settle into a cozy new conference home this fall.
On June 30, the Big East is no more for DePaul and Marquette, at least until they start the new Big East the next day. The seven basketball schools seceding from their football-playing Big East brethren got their long-anticipated separation agreement Friday, which means Notre Dame can aim to leave the Big East -- the first one -- as soon as possible.
Once the so-called Catholic 7 announced in December their intent to detach -- which they will July 1, taking the Big East name with them -- Notre Dame's departure became a backburner issue.
Now the Irish are on the clock, and the ACC is ready. As the Tribune reported Friday, the conference has created scheduling templates to accommodate a possible Notre Dame arrival for 2013-14. All that's left is the haggling, and Notre Dame believes it's more a matter of relinquishing claims to assets than forking over exit fees -- much like the Catholic 7 did.
If it comes together before April, there should be no impediment to joining the ACC for 2013-14. ESPN reported the Big East will seek $2.5 million from Notre Dame to leave this summer. Multiple messages left with Swarbrick on Friday were not returned. The Big East had no comment on Notre Dame talks.
DePaul and Marquette -- along with Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova don't have to wait for their freedom.
The new Big East unsurprisingly was viewed with excess optimism. Marquette AD Larry Williams called it "a move that will allow us to enhance the elite status of our athletic programs, led by men's basketball."
"I felt for a long time we'd be in a good place," DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said. "I think we have a chance to be in the best place."
DePaul AD Jean Lenti Ponsetto guessed the new league would have 10 members or fewer for 2013-14. The group will "move quickly over the next couple weeks" to add new programs, she said, with sources identifying the initial targets as Xavier and Butler, which would have to pay $2 million exit fees to the Atlantic 10.
Creighton, Saint Louis and Dayton are strong candidates to join, but the core membership will examine painstakingly how schools will reinvest their new revenue streams.
"Over the last couple months, there have been no shortage of inquiries," Ponsetto said. "There are several institutions that have indicated very strong interest."
There is also a commissioner to hire and a league office and staff to establish, all of which should fall in line after a couple of new members arrive.
"It really presents you with a level playing field," Ponsetto said of the new league. "We really liked that the focus would be back in a conference where basketball was the primary sport and the primary driver. We think that's going to be an outstanding opportunity."