The ACC is scrapping its original football schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic, shortening it to 11 games, and allowing Notre Dame to compete for the league title for the first time.
The conference announced Wednesday that the previous 2020 schedule will be abandoned and teams will instead play 10 league games plus one designated nonconference game, which has to be played in the ACC school’s home state. The decision was made by the ACC’s Board of Directors, which consists of the presidents and chancellors from the 15 member schools.
Notre Dame, which is the ACC’s 15th school in everything but football, will be fully welcomed into the fold temporarily, with revenue from its lucrative deal with NBC to broadcast Fighting Irish home games shared with the other 14 ACC schools.
Games will begin the week of Sept. 7-12 and the league will use a single-division format, scrapping the Atlantic and Coastal divisions. The two teams with the highest winning percentage in ACC games will play in the ACC title game. Home and road ACC opponents were announced for each team, but not dates or television information. That schedule will be released at a later date, the conference said, along with the nonconference opponents for each school.
“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “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.”
Duke will play home games against Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest and road games at Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia.
North Carolina will play home games against N.C. State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest and road games at Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Miami and Virginia.
N.C. State will play home games against Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest and road games at North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
None of the three North Carolina Triangle teams will play ACC favorite Clemson.
The 11 games will be played over 13 weeks, with two open dates for each school, with the championship game scheduled for Dec. 12 or 19 in Charlotte.
Other fall sports will begin on the same timetable, the ACC said, with fall competition in spring sports like golf and baseball canceled. Field hockey and men’s and women’s soccer will play six-game ACC schedules, while volleyball will play a 10-game ACC schedule, all to meet NCAA minimums.
The ACC board also received a report on COVID-19 protocols from its medical advisory group. Football players and staff will be tested a minimum of weekly, at least three days before a scheduled game. Athletes who test positive would be isolated for 10 days, and then would be exempt from further testing for 90 days from their positive test unless they show symptoms.
That report suggested suspending play if there was an inability to isolate new cases or quarantine contacts, if there was no access to sufficient testing or if campus or community transmission rates were considered unsafe by public health officials.