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By Stephen J. Nesbitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 25, 2012
After 2014, it may be a while before Michigan and Notre Dame face each other in football.
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Notre Dame will opt out of its scheduled games with Michigan beginning in 2014, the Michigan Athletic Department announced Tuesday. The three games planned between the two teams from 2015-17 will not be played. The teams were already planning to take a two-year break beginning in 2018.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick informed Michigan that the school was pulling out of the series in a letter delivered to Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon before the Michigan-Notre Dame game last Saturday, according to the Associated Press, which received a copy of the letter through the Freedom of Information Act. Brandon released a statement Tuesday after the initial report.
“The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame’s and not ours,” Brandon said in the statement. “We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series. This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries.”
Earlier this month, Notre Dame announced that all of its sports, except football and hockey, will move to compete in the ACC. As part of the agreement, the Fighting Irish football team will play five games annually against ACC opponents.
“While this move is a necessary precaution as we begin the process of meeting our new scheduling commitment to the ACC,” Swarbrick wrote, according to the AP. “please know that Notre Dame very much values its relationship with Michigan we look forward to working with you to ensure that our great football rivalry can continue.”
Notre Dame’s recent transition to the ACC brought the possibility of a halt in the Fighting Irish’s scheduling with the Big Ten in favor of scheduling ACC opponents, but the timing of the announcement came as a surprise to fans and the Michigan football program alike.
“Well, they’ve got to do what’s right for Notre Dame,” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “Obviously we enjoy and cherish the rivalry because there’s so much history there. But we’ll move forward.”
Michigan owns a 23-16-1 advantage in the series. Notre Dame's first-ever football game was played against Michigan in 1887. The two programs have played regularly since 1978, but have taken breaks during that period, most recently a two-year hiatus in 2000 and 2001.
“It’s unbelievable,” said fifth-year senior right guard Patrick Omameh. “It’s a long-standing rivalry, it’s a team that we always look forward to play. It’s a team that we would have enjoyed to keep on our schedule.”
Michigan will still play the Fighting Irish at home on Sept. 7, 2013 and in South Bend on Sept. 6, 2014. It hasn't been determined whether the series will continue in 2020.
— This story was updated at 9:10 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2012.