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ACC unveils updated plan for football and fall sports

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NCAA Football: ACC Media Days Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After months of deliberation, the ACC announced on Wednesday that fall sports will take place this year, and they will begin between Sept. 7 and Sept. 12, provided public health guidance allows for sports.

The highlights of the ACC football plan include the adoption of an 11-game season, the addition of Notre Dame to the conference and the elimination of divisions in favor of one 15-team entity. The season will consist of 10 ACC games and one non-conference game that must be played in state, and the championship participants will be the top two teams in the ACC based on winning percentage.

The controversial decision to include Notre Dame will essentially render the Fighting Irish full members for the 2020 season. That means the team will be eligible to play in the conference championship game, and it will get a share of the ACC’s TV revenue while also contributing the money it brings in from its NBC deal to the pot to be split equally.

“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “The board’s decision presents a path, if public health guidance allows, to move forward with competition. Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate the return in a safe and responsible manner. We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”

One notable aspect of the plan is that it will not involve five-team geographic pods, an idea that was said to be under consideration. A more geographically sensible approach could have allowed schools to save money on travel at a time when ticket revenue will either be reduced or non-existent. It also would have kept Pitt and other northerly ACC teams out of COVID-19 hot spots, such as Florida.

In addition to the updated plan for football, the ACC provided updates on Olympic sports. Fall sports, including cross country, field hockey, soccer, and volleyball, will begin on Sept. 10, and ACC teams will schedule at least the NCAA minimum amount of games. In addition, ACC fencing, indoor track and field, and swimming and diving competitions have been postponed until Sept. 10, and fall competition in baseball, golf, lacrosse, rowing and tennis have been canceled by the conference.