September 25, 2012

Notre Dame drops Michigan

More than half the Irish recruiting class watched from the stands on Saturday night as Notre Dame knocked off Michigan in a primetime rivalry game. According to the Associated Press, those high school prospects won't get that same chance during their senior seasons in South Bend.

On Tuesday morning the A.P. reported that athletics director Jack Swarbrick notified Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon that Notre Dame has exercised a three-year opt-out clause in the series contract. That means the 2014 meeting in South Bend between Notre Dame and Michigan is the final scheduled meeting in the series.

The three-year opt-out clause cancels Notre Dame-Michigan games during the 2015-17 seasons. The series was already scheduled to break during the 2018-19 seasons.

Swarbrick handed Brandon a letter informing him of Notre Dame's decision to opt out of the game before kickoff of last Saturday's game in South Bend.

"Our contract with Michigan has an automatic rollover provision - with a year being added each time a game is played," said Notre Dame associate athletics director John Heisler in a statement. "We needed to avoid the automatic addition of additional games until we can get a better understanding of our available inventory in those years - an understanding that will develop as we implement our five-game scheduling commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference."

The Detroit Free-Press reported on Tuesday that it was unclear if Michigan State had received a similar letter from Notre Dame, although Spartans athletics director Mark Hollis was at NCAA meetings in Dallas.

Dropping Michigan, or at least breaking from the Wolverines, seemed inevitable when Notre Dame linked to the ACC in all sports other than football and hockey. Committed to playing five ACC football games per season starting in 2014 and committed to maintaining rivalries with USC, Stanford and Navy, Notre Dame's Big Ten scheduling appeared certain for amendment.

Notre Dame has played Purdue every season since 1946, while games against Michigan and Michigan State have rotated on and off the schedule.

Notre Dame didn't play Michigan in 2000-01, 1995-96 and 1983-84 after the series restarted in 1978 following a 35-year break. The Michigan State series has been much more consistent, played annually since 1959, save a two-season break in 1995-96.

Notre Dame will add Northwestern to the schedule with a home game in 2014 and a road trip to Evanston in 2018. The Chicago Tribune reported last week that Swarbrick rated keeping that two-game series a "high priority" for Notre Dame.


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