Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick to step down in 2024

ND alumnus, NBC Sports chairman Peter Bevacqua named successor
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 11:58 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - After a 15-year tenure at Notre Dame, one of the most influential voices in college athletics will be stepping down next year.

The university announced on Thursday morning that athletic director Jack Swarbrick will be departing from his role sometime in the first quarter of 2024. He will be succeeded by Peter Bevacqua, a 1993 alumnus and chairman of NBC Sports.

You may recognize Bevacqua as the former CEO of PGA of America — and hardcore Notre Dame football fans might even remember him as a walk-on punter for the Irish in the 90s under Lou Holtz.

According to a press release from the university, Bevacqua will join the university on July 1 as a special assistant to President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., before he transitions into Swarbrick’s role. During this transition, Swarbrick will continue to handle athletic director duties.

“I have worked closely with Pete throughout his time at NBC and based on that experience, I believe he has the perfect skill set to help Notre Dame navigate the rapidly changing landscape that is college athletics today, and be an important national leader as we look to the future,” Swarbrick said in Thursday’s press release. “I look forward to helping Notre Dame’s student-athletes and coaches achieve their goals in the months ahead while also helping Pete prepare for his tenure as athletics director.”

As Sports Illustrated senior writer Pat Forde points out, Swarbrick has left an immense mark in college athletics — both on campus and on a national scale — since taking over the role at Notre Dame in 2008.

The Fighting Irish have won 10 national championships across five programs during that time. He led the way on the seismic decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while maintaining Notre Dame’s independence in football.

Swarbrick is also noted for his commitment to academic integrity, as Notre Dame has ranked within the top three nationally in the NCAA’s academic progress rate and graduation success rate metrics every year of his tenure.

Swarbrick has left a mark nationally as one of four voices behind the 12-team College Football Playoff that will begin next year. He’s also been a leading voice on several major issues in college athletics, such as player compensation and conference realignment.

What’s next for Notre Dame athletics?

While we know the answer to the biggest question regarding Swarbrick’s eventual departure (who will be his replacement?), there are a couple of other questions that come to mind for many fans.

For instance, why now?

That’s why we brought WHME Sports Director and Countdown to Kickoff co-host Chuck Freeby onto the show for some analysis.

As Freeby tells us, Swarbrick’s 15 years as athletic director are second to only Moose Krause. But Swarbrick had a much tougher path to navigate than Krause did.

But right now, he has the coaches in his major sports set with Marcus Freeman (football), Niele Ivey (women’s basketball), and now Micah Shrewsberry (men’s basketball). He has kept Notre Dame not only as a football independent, but secured for them a reasonable shot to make the college football playoffs every year.

Meanwhile, Freeby believes it’s likely he has put Notre Dame on the threshold of renewing the TV deal with NBC, giving them some television security for the next few years.

And at the age of 69, it’s not unreasonable to think now’s a good time to retire.

The next question then is: Why the choice of Bevacqua? What does he bring to the table?

As Freeby points out, Bevacqua shares many of the same qualities that Swarbrick did 15 years ago — he’s a former Notre Dame athlete with a law degree and a ton of experience negotiating big-time contracts. He is only the third chairman in the history on NBC Sports, so he has a wide background in business and negotiation.

Meanwhile, this may be the only athletic director’s job in the nation that has about the same status as being a conference commissioner. In negotiating with Swarbrick for the last few years, Bevacqua has likely gained a pretty unique insight into this athletic department.

Plus, knowing the future has a lot to do with online and digital platforms. Freeby expects he’ll be well-versed in guiding the athletic department into those key revenue areas.

Outside of football, the golf programs at Notre Dame are likely thrilled to have a former PGA CEO as the new AD.

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