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Notre Dame Football: Irish Add Western Michigan After Dropping Purdue from 2020 Schedule

Irish and Broncos will play at Notre Dame Stadium; visitors get a $1.175 million payday.

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NCAA Football: Western Michigan at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The athletic directors of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Purdue Boilermakers agreed eight years ago that their schools would play each other Sept. 19...three years from now.

Today, we learned the Irish are still going to be hosting an opponent that day — but it’s going to be the Western Michigan Broncos instead.

Welcome to the silliness of college football scheduling, where matchups are announced up to 20 years in advance and then modified repeatedly as conference affiliations and scheduling philosophies change.


Notre Dame will pay $1.175 million to Western Michigan to play the Broncos at Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 19, 2020. If one team wants to cancel the game, they must pay the other team $500,000. That’s if the cancellation is more than one year in advance. Under a year? It’s going to cost $1 million to exit the arrangement. Notre Dame doesn’t have to pay a cancellation fee if the Atlantic Coast Conference increases it 5-games-per-season requirement on the Irish.

The Broncos get 4,000 tickets for their fans, which is a normal allotment.


In 2009, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Purdue’s then-athletic director Morgan Burke hammered out an agreement that would allow the schools to play each other for 12 more consecutive years.

“Jack, we have played 80 ghames and have preserved a series that has played consecutively since 1946 or 64 years! It is a tremendous tradition for both schools and for our state,” Burke wrote to his colleague.

By 2013, however, two seismic changes occurred. Purdue was now obligated to nine Big Ten conference games and Notre Dame started an affiliation with the ACC that required them to play five ACC squads per year.

“Jack and I tried everything we could to keep the series going without interruption," Burke said in a release.

The Purdue series would be put on hold after 2014, but would resume on the previously agreed upon September date in 2020. Under the new agreement — struck in December 2013 — the Irish would travel to West Lafayette instead of hosting the game in South Bend.

Fast forward to this June.

Purdue and Notre Dame are again negotiating the extension of their series, and mutually agree to nix their planned 2020 game. Under the newest agreement, the series resumes in September 2021 — and it’s back at Notre Dame Stadium again.


It takes Swarbrick about 45 days to strike an agreement with Western Michigan for the 2020 spot vacated by Purdue. The deal is reached Aug. 9, and revealed today by the Detroit Free Press’ Brandon Folsom. (Neither school has officially confirmed the game, although Folsom received a copy of the agreement signed by both parties.)

The Irish and Broncos have played three times: 1919, 1920 and 2010. The Irish have won all three.

The Irish’s 2020 schedule now looks like this:


The agreement with Western Michigan does not negatively impact Notre Dame’s ability to keep its commitment to the BYU Cougars to play a game in Provo before the 2020 season ends. The Cougars were already committed to play the Arizona State Sun Devils on Sept. 19.

Again, the only two remaining open dates shared by the Cougars and the Irish are Oct. 31 and Nov. 21. I’ve already suggested the teams should play on Halloween in the new Las Vegas NFL stadium.