ANN ARBOR — Three days into the Michigan football team's bye week, the school's athletic department announced that its scheduled football games against Notre Dame will not be played in 2015, 2016, or 2017.
The Associated Press obtained a letter from Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, via a Freedom of Information Act request, stating the Irish's intentions to end the series.
Michigan said in a statement that Swarbrick informed Brandon of its intentions to place the series on hold prior to kickoff of Michigan's 13-6 loss to the No. 10 Irish on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
Brandon told SiriusXM's College Football Playbook on Tuesday that he wasn't surprised by the move, which suspends one of the nation's oldest and most notable college football rivalries.
While both Notre Dame and Michigan officials have said there is no written contract for the football series between the two schools, each school was obligated to give the other three games' notice before either discontinuing the series or putting it on hold.
Brandon, though, said he was surprised by how quickly it happened — that Swarbrick gave him the letter on the sidelines prior to Saturday's game.
"The letter I received was like an hour before game time," Brandon said. "Included in the letter was the idea the game we played Saturday night would be one of the three games. So it really cancels one of the three games that were planned with two years' notice."
Michigan is scheduled to host Notre Dame on Sept. 7, 2013, at Michigan Stadium, and Notre Dame will host Michigan on Sept. 6, 2014, in South Bend before the series will be put on hold for at least five seasons. In June, Michigan announced that a hiatus was scheduled in 2018 and 2019, with the intention to resume the series in 2020.
Tuesday, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he hadn't considered future opponents.
"In the long run we knew this might happen but have not really thought out there far enough," Hoke said. "I'm sure Dave [Brandon] and I will have conversations and do what's right for Michigan."
Two weeks ago, Notre Dame announced its intention to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football and men's hockey. While men's hockey will begin play in Hockey East next fall, no date has been set for Notre Dame to join the ACC.
Yet when Notre Dame joins the ACC, the Irish have a contractual obligation to schedule five games each season against ACC opponents.
In a statement, senior associate athletics director John Heisler said Notre Dame needed to steer away from automatically adding games to its schedule until knowing what programs are available to add to each year's schedule.
In that statement, Heisler said it would be "an understanding that will develop as we implement our five-game scheduling commitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference."
GARDNER ‘FINE': Hoke said receiver Devin Gardner was not injured after he dove for a ball in the far corner of the end zone Saturday.
Gardner collided with members of the Irish cheerleading squad and appeared to hurt his shoulder. He was on the ground for a few minutes before walking off the field on his own power.
Hoke said he didn't anticipate Gardner to miss any practice time.
BYE WEEK HAPPENINGS: Michigan (2-2) gets a built-in break between the end of its nonconference schedule and the start of its Big Ten Conference slate Oct. 6 at Purdue.
Hoke said that nobody has been given the week off. Michigan has today off, will practice Thursday and Friday morning, and have Saturday off before regrouping Sunday.
Thomas Gordon has plans for a rare Saturday away from the field. "I can sit back and watch college football all day," the safety said.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.
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