HARTFORD, Conn. -- State legislators announced a compromise
Wednesday that will allow the University of Connecticut to play a
six-game football series with Notre Dame, even though none of those
games will be played in Connecticut.
UConn and Notre Dame had been negotiating a 10-game series. The
Fighting Irish wanted five of those games played in South Bend
Ind., and the five UConn "home" games played at large stadiums in
the New York or Boston metropolitan areas -- not at the Huskies'
40,000-seat Rentschler Field.
The agreement reached between UConn and the lawmakers would run
from 2011-2017, putting three games at Notre Dame stadium, and
three at sites in either Boston, New York or New Jersey. It also
requires UConn to play at least six other home games during those
seasons at Rentschler Field, as long as the NCAA rules permit a
12-game season and permits a team to use one Football Championship
Subdivision win per season as a bowl-eligible win.
"Many of us felt we already had a beautiful facility in
Connecticut and it was built for UConn," said Rep. Michael Christ,
D-East Hartford, who proposed a bill this session that would have
required UConn to play all its home games at Rentschler. "I
believe we have crafted a reasonable solution."
Christ said he hopes UConn can persuade Notre Dame to play at
Rentschler in the future.
UConn officials said playing Notre Dame will be a big boost for
UConn's up-and-coming football program. The Huskies became
full-fledged Division I-A program in 2002 and joined the Big East
in 2004. They have been to two bowl games since, and finished last
season as co-champions of the conference at 9-4, losing to Wake
Forest in the Meineke Bowl.
"These games will be a tremendous recruiting tool for our
program, enhance our national television exposure and also increase
our program's visibility by playing Notre Dame in two large
metropolitan areas in which we have a significant alumni
presence," said coach Randy Edsall.
Athletic director Jeff Hathaway said he would not have argued
for such a series with any other school but Notre Dame, the most
storied program in the history of college football.
Hathaway said UConn football season ticket holders will be given
the option to buy a discounted ticket to the Notre Dame games
played in the Northeast as part of their package. UConn students
will be charged the normal home-game price for the Notre Dame game.
The school will run buses to the games for students, he said.
UConn still needs to complete the deal with Notre Dame,
Connecticut's Office of Policy and Management and the potential
venues. UConn had already reached a separate agreement for a
seventh game with Notre Dame, to be played next season in South