Arizona State’s persistance paid off Tuesday as athletic director Steve Patterson announced that the school had reached agreement with Notre Dame to keep a non-conference game against the Fighting Irish at Sun Devil Stadium in 2014.
Notre Dame, which had tried to back out of a contract between the schools, is dropping a return meeting between the two teams in South Bend, Ind., from its 2017 schedule.
The 2014 game in Tempe has been moved to Nov. 8, two weeks later than originally scheduled.
“We’re pleased that Notre Dame was able to resolve its scheduling issues in a way that allows it to play at Sun Devil Stadium in 2014,” Patterson said in a statement.
ASU also plays Notre Dame at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this coming season on Oct. 5 as part of Notre Dame’s “Shamrock Series.” That game is unaffected.
Notre Dame first notified ASU by phone on April 5 that it wanted to back out of a contract signed in 2008. According to a radio interview Patterson did in April, Notre Dame had a media relations person call ASU’s media relations chief with the news while much of the athletic department was at the NCAA basketball Final Four in Atlanta.
ASU refused to accommodate Notre Dame’s request to drop the game, standing behind the strict contractual agreement. Notre Dame apparently offered alternatives that were not amenable but ultimately worked with ASU to reschedule the game.
“While the game at Notre Dame in 2017 has been canceled, what is most important to us is that the game in Tempe has been saved,” Patterson said. “These are exciting times for our football program, and having a special opponent like Notre Dame travel to ASU will make for another memorable experience.”
Notre Dame, an independent, wanted to back out of the contract in relation to its new connection to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The school is a conference member in every sport except football but must play five ACC teams in football each season. Accordingly, the school was trying to make room for ACC opponents by dropping others.
ASU had already devoted marketing resources and funds to the 2014 game, and any replacement opponent ASU might have found at such a late time in the scheduling process would almost certainly have led to reduced ticketing and merchandise revenues.
ASU should have plenty of time to find a replacement opponent for the canceled 2017 game.