It's a rumor that's persisted for quite a while, and one that actually has had legs. But Notre Dame doesn't appear close to joining the Big 12, according to Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune.
Hamilton caught up with Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, who denied a report that stated the Fighting Irish were ready to pull the trigger on a move to the Big 12 that would shift athletic programs other than football away from the Big East.
But Notre Dame and the Big 12 have had discussions about a non-football merger for two years now, as revealed by documents obtained by the Associated Press last October. And Texas AD Deloss Dodds spoke openly to CBSSports.com about discussions with Notre Dame, as did men's basketball coach Mike Brey in explaining "contingency plans."
This isn't exactly new. There's plenty of smoke surrounding South Bend and Dallas, where the Big 12 headquarters are located. What's new, or at least needed to be reported, was that Notre Dame won't be making the move any time soon.
That doesn't mean a move will be made in the future. Irish football is about as close to a lock as possible to remain independent, as the proposed playoff format would allow for Notre Dame to be included. They won't have to win a conference to join the party. And once their next TV deal is hammered out, any rumors about Notre Dame's football affiliation should go by the wayside.
Notre Dame wouldn't be giving up over 100 years of tradition by moving their non-football programs to another conference. The Irish have only been competing in the Big East since 1995. Regular contests against Syracuse and Pittsburgh are going away soon, while regular contests against Central Florida and SMU are closing fast.
Swarbrick told Hamilton there will come a time when he and the school take a long look at their Big East affiliation.
That hasn't happened yet, but chances are, it will.