Irish addition boosts ACC non-revenue sports

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 13, 2012 

Womens College Cup Notre Dame NCarolina Soccer

North Carolina's Kristi Eveland (32) jumps over the top of Notre Dame's Taylor Knaack (4) for a header in the second half during an NCAA college women's soccer championship semifinal, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

BOB LEVEY — AP

  • Notre Dame champions Notre Dame won six Big East championships in 2011-12 in 21 sports the conference plays (not including men’s basketball and football) and 18 championships the past three years. 2011-12 champions Men • Golf • Indoor track & field • Outdoor track & field • Swimming and diving Women • Rowing • Tennis Also, women’s basketball and men’s lacrosse teams won regular-season titles in 2011-12.   Programs of note Men • Golf won past 3 Big East champinships • Indoor track & field won 2 of past 3 • Outdoor track & field won 4 of past 5 • Swimming & diving won 5 of past 8 Women • Golf won 2 of past 3 Big East championships • Rowing won past 8 • Soccer won 4 of past 7 • Swimming & diving won 8 of past 10 • Tennis won 8 of past 10

Notre Dame can play a little bit in sports other than football and basketball.

Notre Dame won 116 Big East titles, including 14 in women’s swimming and diving, 11 in women’s soccer, 11 in women’s tennis, nine in rowing, nine in volleyball, eight in men’s golf, and eight in men’s outdoor track and field.

The women’s soccer team won its third NCAA championship two years ago. Only North Carolina (20) has won more, and the Tar Heels beat the Irish in the final five times.

Seven ACC teams are ranked in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll – including No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Duke.

Irish women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum is most excited to grow the school’s rivalry with North Carolina. The Irish are slated to begin competing in ACC sports in 2015-16.

“(Joining the ACC) changes the whole dynamic for this team,” Waldrum said. “It’s obviously the most powerful conference in women’s soccer, and now it only becomes that much more attractive. On top of that, you now have two of the most storied women’s soccer powers in the country (Notre Dame and North Carolina) getting to play each other every year, which only adds to my excitement.”

The Irish women’s basketball team has reached the past two NCAA championship games, falling to Texas A&M and Baylor, and won the 2001 title. They have been to the tournament 19 times, more than all but four ACC teams – North Carolina (23), N.C.State (21), Duke (20) and Maryland (20).

N.C. State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper was shocked when she learned the Irish were joining the ACC.

“We’re still trying to grasp the fact that Pitt and Syracuse are joining the league,” Harper said. “But in terms of women’s basketball, this is huge for the ACC. They are one of the premier programs in the country right now.”

Duke women’s basketball coach Joanne P. McCallie thanked Commissioner John Swofford and the rest of the ACC for bringing Notre Dame into the conference.

“It is a great day for the ACC and Notre Dame,” McCallie said. “The leadership exhibited by the ACC and its members is simply outstanding on all levels. All at Duke women’s basketball are thrilled and excited to be a part of such a forward-thinking membership.”

Tar Heels women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell said the conference is stronger.

“Adding Notre Dame to our league strengthens what we already think is the best women’s basketball conference in the country,” Hatchell said. “I’ve known (Notre Dame women’s basketball coach) Muffet (McGraw) for a long time and she is a great coach who has built a national championship program at Notre Dame.”

The Irish men’s lacrosse team has equaled the success of the women’s basketball program, playing in the final four two of the past three seasons – including a loss in the 2010 national championship to Duke.

Duke has faced Notre Dame in men’s lacrosse five times in the past three years, with Notre Dame holding a 3-2 advantage, but the Blue Devils knocked the Irish out in the 2011 NCAA semifinals and the 2010 national championship.

Notre Dame men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan, whose father Gene went to Duke, coached at Virginia and is a former Notre Dame athletics director and former ACC commissioner, said he is thrilled to join the conference.

“This means we’re going to be in the single-best conference in college lacrosse,” he said. “It’s a tremendously competitive league and a very exciting league to be a part of.”

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