EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Notre Dame and Michigan State have decided to play each other less frequently in football.
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said Wednesday he and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick agreed their current contract is not a win-win deal because of conference games both schools have to play every season.
The Fighting Irish will begin playing games against Atlantic Coast Conference schools this year. The Spartans will play nine games in the Big Ten each season starting in 2016.
“Jack and I have talked through the challenges we both have in a cooperative way,” Hollis said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Notre Dame and Michigan State, who began playing each other in 1897, were to meet in four straight seasons followed by two-year breaks through the 2031 season. They are not planning to keep up that pace of regularly scheduled matchups.
Hollis does expect games at Notre Dame in 2016 and 2026, at Michigan State in 2017 and 2027, plus a pair of neutral-site games.
“We have an understanding, but we have not put it to a contract yet because it is still fluid,” Hollis said. “Our neutral-site games could be anywhere on the globe, but Chicago would be a good location for both of us.”
Notre Dame opted out of its contract with Michigan in 2012, making this year’s game in South Bend, Indiana, the last scheduled game in that rivalry. When the Irish made that move, Hollis said he expected them to continue their storied series with the Spartans that dates to the 1890s and has been played frequently since 1948. Two months later, though, the Big Ten announced Rutgers and Maryland were joining the conference.
“With conference expansion, we’re losing the ability to play regional rivalries on as regular of a basis as we have in the past,” Hollis said. “That is an unfortunate fallout.”