October 03, 2012

NEEDHAM, Mass. (AP) -- The Atlantic Coast Conference has dropped a plan to play nine conference football games starting next season and revised its scheduling setup for basketball with the addition of Notre Dame.

The league announced in February it would have a nine-game football schedule once Pittsburgh and Syracuse moved from the Big East to the ACC. But with Notre Dame now set to play five games against ACC teams every season, starting no later than 2015, conference leaders decided to stick with an eight-game schedule.

The league also planned an 18-game basketball schedule with teams having a primary partner that they played twice every season. ACC teams will now have two primary partners, a move that will ensure annual home-and-away matchups between longtime rivals such as North Carolina and North Carolina State; Virginia and Maryland; and Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Those programs were guaranteed to play just once a year before Wednesday's announcement, which came after the league's fall business meetings.

"The addition of Notre Dame gives us an opportunity to reinforce a number of conference rivalries in basketball and Olympic sports while also giving our schools greater flexibility in nonconference football scheduling," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "With Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame joining us, it is an exciting time in our league and our schools have made decisions that position us extremely well for the future."

The ACC basketball tournaments will include all members, with the top four seeds receiving byes into the quarterfinal round. But for the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the league will include the 12 teams with the best RPI from the previous year

The ACC baseball championship will include 10 teams in a six-day event, beginning with the 2014 season. The league currently has eight teams compete in a five-day event.

The league also said any school barred from postseason competition due to NCAA sanctions would be ineligible for regular-season or divisional recognition within the conference.

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