A new ACC scheduling model for football season includes Notre Dame as a member and gives teams a 10-game conference slate, plus one non-conference game to be determined.
Games will begin the week of Sept. 7-12, if public health guidance allows, and teams will have 13 weeks to play 11 games.
Divisions won’t be used, with the top two teams in winning percentage playing in the ACC championship game on Dec. 12 or 19 at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
Notre Dame, a long-time independent in football but a league member in other sports, will have a chance to play for an ACC championship, while all TV revenue, including money from Notre Dame's deal with NBC, will be divided among the 15 ACC members.
The plus-one format would allow ACC and SEC teams to preserve in-state rivalry games such as Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Louisville-Kentucky and Florida State-Florida.
“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The board’s decision presents a path, if public health guidance allows, to move forward with competition.”
As far as other Power Five conferences go, the ACC appears to be operating in the middle during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced this month that their schools would not play non-conference football games. The Big 12 is proceeding as scheduled and even released its schedule today for a media day next week. The SEC is reportedly in a similar situation with the ACC in nearing a decision on its schedule in the coming days or weeks.
“Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate the return in a safe and responsible manner,” Swofford continued in the release. “We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”
As early as last week, reports surfaced that today's meeting of ACC presidents would bring a vote from the league’s presidents and chancellors.
“As we look ahead to the fall, the safety of our students, staff and overall campus community continues to be our top priority,” Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud, the chair of the ACC board of directors, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement outlines a specific path for ACC fall sports to return to intercollegiate athletic competition using comprehensive protocols put forward by our ACC Medical Advisory Group.
“As a league, we understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information evolves in conjunction with local and state health guidelines.”
The ACC’s announcement includes the caveat that all non-conference games “must be played in the home state of the ACC institution, and all non-conference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC.”
The ACC’s weekly schedule and television selections will be released at a later date, the news release says.
North Carolina announced this week that it would limit attendance at Kenan Stadium this season and will not follow a season-ticket format, the News & Observer of Raleigh reported. N.C. State athletics director Boo Corrigan released a statement today saying his school is preparing a similar plan, according to the N&O.
Additionally, the league’s release states that fall Olympic sports competition can begin Sept. 10. Team sports will play an ACC schedule that meets the NCAA’s minimum amount of games – six for men’s and women’s soccer and field hockey and 10 for volleyball.
Among the impacts on the original 2020 ACC football schedule:
- Three matchups featuring ACC teams in Atlanta are canceled: North Carolina-Auburn, Virginia-Georgia and Florida State-West Virginia.
- The addition of a Wake Forest-North Carolina game in Chapel Hill means that all of the Big Four teams will play each other.
- Notre Dame is picking up Florida State and Syracuse in South Bend and games at North Carolina and Boston College. The Irish's games against Wisconsin, Stanford and Southern Cal had already been canceled because of the Big Ten and Pac-12 decisions.
- Labor Day weekend will be football-free for ACC teams, and the start of the season will take place on the same week that the NFL season is expected to open. The Houston Texans will visit the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10 to kick off the pro season.