SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says the school is closely monitoring the changing landscape of college athletics and hopes the Big East remains a vibrant partner with the school.
The Irish are football independents, but many of their athletic teams compete in the Big East, including the men's and women's basketball programs. The Big East is looking for new members after Pittsburgh and Syracuse said they were bolting for the ACC.
"Certainly the factors that have contributed to the larger conference realignment continue to exist," Swarbrick said Wednesday. "And we're doing the same thing we've done throughout, monitoring them closely, and hoping that the Big East stays a vibrant and successful partner for us."
What schools might be added and when are all part of the upheaval in the Big East and throughout college sports.
"They're (the Big East) working on additions. You got to wait until the whole picture is shaped to really have a feel for it, for what that option is like," Swarbrick said. "Just continue to support them and be involved in their planning and hope they wind up in a great place."
Asked what the Big East's direction might be, Swarbrick said:
"It's great to make plans," he said. "It's whether the people you might be interested in or the circumstances will allow you to achieve those plans. But certainly the way the conference is thinking and what it's trying to achieve are consistent with what I think it needs to do."
Notre Dame was mentioned repeatedly last year when the Big Ten was discussing expansion, culminating in the addition of Nebraska as its 12th member. The Irish have also been mentioned as a desirable target for other leagues in recent months, particularly by the fractured Big 12.
Notre Dame also announced Wednesday its hockey program was joining Hockey East in two years and that its games would be televised on NBC. That network has televised Notre Dame football games for two decades.
Swarbrick said he didn't envision Notre Dame having a separate network for its sports similar to the Longhorn Network at Texas. That doesn't mean Notre Dame's exposure won't reach from coast to coast through various means.
"Texas has a geographic footprint that allows it to launch a cable station, a cable network. We don't," Swarbrick said. "There is no cable footprint that fits Notre Dame, but when emerging technologies allow us to put a program out that someone in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York can all gain access to because of those technologies, that's where we want to be."
Swarbrick, who is involved in NCAA task forces, predicted significant changes ahead for college sports -- outside realignment -- soon.
"I do think college sports is going to look different in meaningful ways in 18 months," he said without elaborating. He then suggested he supports some kind of stipend for athletes to defray living expenses.
"It's a cost of living element that exists in a lot of academic scholarships," he said. "This isn't a radical notion in the university world. So given the demands on student athletes increasingly across all sports and they way they engage in their sport year-round, it probably is an appropriate offset to the fact they can't typically have gainful employment in the summer like most students or have an internship."