By Eric Garland and Matthew McNab
COLLEGE PARK – Joining the ACC will give Notre Dame a higher profile in Maryland and other mid-Atlantic states, but Maryland high school coaches said Wednesday the increased visibility would do little to affect the local recruiting landscape.
The Washington-Baltimore corridor produces some of the nation’s finest basketball, lacrosse and football players.
John Carroll men’s basketball coach Tony Martin said more than 200 colleges have recruited his players during his eight-year career at the Bel Air school.
Martin said he did not believe that, “One [more ACC] school is going to make much of an impact.”
Martin pointed to Maryland’s resurgence in local basketball recruiting under head coach Mark Turgeon as evidence that the recruiting scene won’t change much.
“By the looks of it, Maryland is doing an incredible job on the recruiting front under coach Turgeon and his staff,” he said. “I am pretty certain they are going to hold their own in the recruiting wars.”
But, Martin acknowledged, Notre Dame is an attractive landing spot for his players.
“I don’t think there is any question that it is a great school and that kids would want to go there,” he said. “They have very high-end academics as we do here at John Carroll, and trying to find that right marriage is always a goal.”
St. Frances basketball coach Nick Myles said he believed recruiting in the region will be “similar” after Notre Dame joins the ACC within the next three years. But he said he expected the move would increase his student athletes’ interest in Notre Dame.
“My team has always been attracted to Notre Dame,” Myles said. “Unfortunately, we never had Notre Dame recruit any of our kids.”
Maryland lacrosse coach John Tillman said he was happy with Notre Dame’s addition because it will strengthen competition in one of the nation’s top conferences. Tillman said he thinks the move could help Maryland’s recruiting efforts.
“I’m not sure specifically it changes recruiting a whole lot,” Tillman said, “except for getting out to the Midwest [and] maybe getting a little bit more exposure over there.”
DeMatha Catholic High School Athletic Director Ed King said Notre Dame’s ACC move could boost basketball recruitment in the area, because of a big connection between the schools.
Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey was a 1977 graduate of DeMatha and started his coaching career as an assistant there in 1982.
“Joining as a basketball member means our athletes will see them more often, because they’re going to play games in the area,” King said. “Brey can tell them they can play some of their games in their own backyard, and that will be a boost.”
However, King said he didn’t foresee a change in football recruiting after the move.
“Notre Dame is a national name,” he said. “The name recruits itself. It might be a boost to fans in the area, but I don’t think joining the ACC is going to up recruitment rates in football.”
King also didn’t think the Notre Dame move would affect Maryland’s recruiting in the area.
“Maryland’s just up the road, so the access is there because it’s an easy commute,” he said. “Indiana’s a little bit farther away.”
Local Notre Dame alumni said they were excited about their alma mater joining the conference.
“It was a shock to hear,” said Notre Dame Club of Maryland Secretary Mark Sbarra. “I was just out there for the Purdue game, but I didn’t hear anything about them moving. It’s a good fit for our non-football programs, and it allows the school to maintain our traditional rivalries.”
A 1979 Notre Dame graduate, Sbarra picked Michigan, Michigan State and Southern California as three of the school’s rivalries he hoped would stay, but pointed to Navy as the most important one to keep.
“You’ll never see Navy come off the schedule, because of their history,” he said. “Navy kept Notre Dame afloat during World War II by moving its ROTC programs there.”
Capital News Service staff writer Connor Letourneau