Big East commissioner Mike Aresco says no discussions yet on Notre Dame early departure

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The ACC announced this week that Notre Dame would be joining the conference in all sports except for football, but the news leaves an undetermined variable: when will it happen?

According to Big East commissioner Mike Aresco, his conference has not begun discussions with Notre Dame as to when or if the Irish will be allowed to depart for the ACC “early.”

“They may make that request and then we’d have to negotiate with them because they are required to stay for two more seasons. If they do, we’ll engage them in a negotiation. I can’t tell you much more than that,” Aresco said Thursday, as reported by The Sporting News.

As bylaw stands now, the Big East’s exit fee is $5 million, plus a 27-month waiting period before moving out.

But the Big East’s last three departures, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, have all negotiated early exits. West Virginia paid $20 million to the Big East for the right to join the Big 12 this season, while Pitt and SU each paid $7.5 million to join the ACC for the start of the 2013-14 season.

“There is a precedent for [early departure],” Aresco continued. “We’ll maintain a good relationship with Notre Dame. We’ve been very magnanimous. That’s the way we should be. We wish Notre Dame well. We’ll talk to them. We may be able to figure something out. We may not. We just don’t know yet.”

As part of Notre Dame’s agreement, the school’s football team will play five games annually against ACC schools.

Aresco went on to call speculation of the Big East’s demise as “complete nonsense.”

“We have a great basketball conference,” he said. “Notre Dame — we enjoy having the relationship — but when you have Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and UConn and Georgetown and Villanova and an up-and-coming St. John’s, the possibility of DePaul doing well in Chicago, and adding Memphis and Temple, two strong programs. … When you have all that, how can anybody argue we aren’t top to bottom the best basketball conference in the country? We’re right up there.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_