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Will the NCAA Crack Down on Notre Dame's "Neutral Site" Games?

Jeff KalafaAnalyst IIIJune 6, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 20: The leprechaun mascot of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish yells on the field during the game against the University of Southern California Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium October 20, 2007 in South Bend, Indiana. USC defeated Notre Dame 38-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Will the NCAA take issue with Notre Dame's football program for stepping up the number of "neutral site" games planned for the coming years?

This year the Irish will play Washington St. in San Antonio's Alamo Dome and next year they'll play Navy, in either the NJ Meadowlands or in Baltimore.

In 2012, they'll play Baylor in New Orleans' Super Dome and in 2013 they will go to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium to meet Arizona St.

They have dates set in 2011 and 2014 to play in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and are in negotiations with UConn to play three games in Foxboro's Gillette Stadium and two in the Medowlands.

They also want to play in Yankee Stadium.

The thing that jumps out when one takes a look at these "neutral site" games is that they are all practically in someone else's back yard. 

San Antonio's a short drive from Austin (University of Texas), SMU is in Dallas, and the Super Dome is next door to Tulane, and not too far from LSU.

Foxboro is within shouting distance from Boston College and the Meadowlands, where they seem to want to visit on a regular basis, is only 25 miles from Rutgers.

One has to wonder, since all these games are so close to other schools, is this in violation of a policy the NCAA implemented two years ago to give territorial protection to its members.

This ruling is generally referred to as the "Rutgers Rule."

At the time, Rutgers was holding football camps in south Florida and it upset more than a few people.

The NCAA has stated clearly that "colleges will no longer be able to hold football camps for kids outside of their own state or if out-of-state, they must be no more than 50 miles from their campus."

Schools in the ACC and SEC complained to the NCAA because Coach Schiano was holding football camps in south Florida for thousands of kids over a number of years.

So the question has to be asked in regard to the aggressive nature of Notre Dame's future schedule.  Is it BARNSTORMING or is it TRESS-PASSING?

I don't think we can really tell under which category it falls but it's something for the NCAA to look into. 

These "neutral site" games are felt to have a clear effect on recruiting and if other teams decide to get with the program, college football could have somewhat of a mess on its hands

Can you imagine, for example, USC arranging to play North Carolina in Detroit's Ford Field?  How about Nebraska coming to the Gator Bowl for a regular season matchup with Clemson?

And how about this:  How about Ohio State deciding that they could put a lot more fans in the building when they play Northwestern on the road, so they ask Notre Dame if they could rent out Notre Dame Stadium on a Saturday, when the Irish are out of town?

They make the case that it's only a short drive from Chicago and we need a larger gate.  And they explain to Notre Dame that there will be a lot of money in it for them—another "home" game.

I realize that Notre Dame likes to please their fans—all of their fans around the country.  But at the same time, is there an issue of territorial infraction involved in doing so?

Something to think about!

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