Longtime Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick stepping down in 2024, NBC Sports exec Pete Bevecqua to take role

Swarbrick, an architect of the 12-team CFP, has been a very influential figure in college athletics

Longtime Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick is stepping away from his role.

Swarbrick will step down in 2024 and NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevecqua will take the reins as Notre Dame’s athletic director, school president Rev. John Jenkins announced Thursday.

Swarbrick, 69, has been the AD at Notre Dame since 2008 and has been very influential in the world of college athletics as a whole. Most notably, Swarbrick was one of the four architects of the 12-team College Football Playoff alongside SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and former Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, while being a highly respected voice on issues like realignment and paying college athletes.

During his time in South Bend, Swarbrick orchestrated the school’s ACC membership in 2013 while maintaining its coveted independence in football and oversaw the football hirings of Brian Kelly and Marcus Freeman. Under Swarbrick’s watch, Notre Dame won 10 national championships across five sports — women’s basketball, fencing, men’s and women’s soccer and, most recently, men’s lacrosse.

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 08: Notre Dame Fighting Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick is seen before the game against the Ball State Cardinals at Notre Dame Stadium on September 8, 2018 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Ball State 24-16. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Longtime Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick will step down from his role in the first quarter of 2024. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Notre Dame has long-standing relationship with NBC

Bevecqua, 51, will officially join the Notre Dame athletic department on July 1 as special assistant to the president for athletics, paving the way for him to take over for Swarbrick in the first quarter of 2024. Notre Dame has a long-standing relationship with NBC as its exclusive broadcast partner. That relationship helped establish Bevecqua as a candidate to replace Swarbrick.

“It has been my privilege to work alongside Jack Swarbrick as he led Notre Dame to unprecedented success over the past 15 years while providing such an influential voice in college athletics, and I’m excited that we have such a talented and experienced leader in Pete Bevacqua to spend some time learning under Jack before assuming new leadership in one of America’s most storied athletic programs,” Jenkins said. “Having come to know Pete over the years in his work at NBC Sports, I’m looking forward to welcoming him, his wife, Tiffany, and their children — Samantha, Arthur and Jake — to our campus community.”

Bevecqua led business operations and oversaw strategy for NBC Sports and most recently helped complete a rights agreement with the Big Ten. NBC will begin hosting Big Ten games on Saturday nights as part of the conference’s new seven-year deal that also includes agreements with Fox and CBS. Additionally, Bevecqua helped NBC reach an 11-year extension with the NFL to continue broadcasting "Sunday Night Football."

“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. “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.”

Bevecqua, a 1993 Notre Dame graduate who was a punter for the Irish football team, said the university is one of the most important things in his life.

“This is an unbelievable honor for me and a dream come true. With the exception of my family, nothing means more to me than the University of Notre Dame,” Bevacqua said. “As a Notre Dame alum, I have a keen understanding and deep appreciation of the lifetime, transformational benefit our student-athletes receive in a Notre Dame education, one that is unique and unlike any other institution in the world.”

Will Notre Dame stay independent in football?

Notre Dame, which has not won a national title in football since 1988, is entering its second season with Freeman as head coach. The Irish went 9-4 in Freeman’s first season, which followed Kelly’s surprising departure to LSU.

With ongoing conference realignment rumblings (and major movement across conferences in the last two years), Notre Dame is seen as the biggest prize if a conference can lure its football program away from the ranks of the FBS independents.

Swarbrick has continually said that the key parts of the Irish maintaining independence have been the program’s access to a national championship and maintaining its broadcast partner. Swarbrick helped create the 12-team playoff, which begins in 2024 and has spots for multiple at-large teams in the field, and helped usher in an NBC executive with a significant Notre Dame background as his successor. Remaining unaffiliated with a conference seems likely.

Bevacqua seems aligned with future independence.

“I’m a fan of independence, for sure,” he told Sports Illustrated. “It’s another element of what makes Notre Dame different. I think those differentiators for Notre Dame are more important and more valuable today than they’ve ever been.”

Notre Dame's current deal with NBC runs through 2025. A significant financial increase could come with an updated agreement.