Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick says the Big Ten Conference's pending television contract with NBC is a “perfect” way for the network to complement its longtime broadcast relationship with the Fighting Irish.
As reported by The Associated Press, Swarbrick held a live online chat for Notre Dame’s alumni association Wednesday, during which he addressed recent developments with the Big Ten and how they could impact the school’s ability to remain a football independent.
The Big Ten’s new media rights deals are not yet finalized, but the conference is moving toward contracts with Fox, NBC and CBS. The league has also said it is having discussions with streaming services to televise its games.
NBC has had exclusive rights to broadcast Notre Dame home games since 1991. The latest iteration of that deal runs through 2025.
Swarbrick called the Big Ten’s strategy brilliant and said he expected the value of the deals will be “pretty amazing” for the conference. Some reports put the package's total value at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion annually.
“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said. “We need NBC to have more college football to more effectively promote our games and to talk about our games and to have NBC be seen in that light. So that was great for us that [NBC] got a big piece of this.”
Swarbrick said the recent expansions of the Big Ten (adding Southern California and UCLA in 2024) and the Southeastern Conference (adding Texas and Oklahoma in 2025) have only helped strengthen Notre Dame’s position as a college football independent.
Notre Dame is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference for most of its sports and has an agreement to play five football games per season against ACC schools. Plus, a clause in Notre Dame’s deal with the ACC would require it to join that league if it decides to give up football independence. That deal runs through 2036.
Swarbrick said the three factors Notre Dame would weigh if it considered joining a conference for football would be a television partner to broadcast all home games, access to the College Football Playoff and how it would impact Olympic sports.
“When I started this job ... all the commentary was were we relevant anymore? This year, no one is asking that question,” Swarbrick said. “A lot of this dynamic has just reinforced the decisions made over a lot of years that have placed Notre Dame in a very good position. That’s my biggest takeaway.”