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Pontiac Notre Dame Prep has opted to leave the Catholic League rather than play a crossover football game next season against Birmingham Brother Rice.

Representatives of the school went to the Catholic League board Tuesday, requesting to not play football in the Catholic League due to the league scheduling the game against Brother Rice, which is a member of the Central Division, the highest level with the largest schools.

Notre Dame Prep longtime athletic director Betty Wroubel said the reasoning to not play Brother Rice was due to safety concerns.

Notre Dame Prep chose to leave after its appeal was denied, said Vic Michaels, Catholic League athletics director.

"The schedule came out in November and they appealed the schedule, saying they didn't want to play the crossover game against the Central Division team, Brother Rice," Michaels said. "After the superintendent denied their appeal they presented it to the board today, requesting to not play football next year in the Catholic League and the board denied that request and per our regulations, which states that if a school doesn't accept a scheduled or league commitment as presented they are suspended for a minimum of a year for all sports at all levels, so really they chose to leave as opposed to playing Brother Rice.

"It hurts everybody in the league because of the relationships built during the years and everything," Michaels said. "We hate to lose them since they are a very good league member, very supportive of everything we've done and hosted a lot of our events."

Notre Dame Prep is the first full-time member of the league to have been suspended.

The Irish have been strong in football, earning four Division 4 state playoff appearances in the last five years. They were 8-3 this season, including a 33-30 win over a River Rouge team that went on to play in the Division 5 state title game.

Notre Dame Prep and Detroit Loyola are both competing in the Catholic League's AA Division with Loyola also a state powerhouse in Division 7.

While Notre Dame Prep didn't have to play a Central Division team this past season, Loyola was forced to play two, losing to Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Warren De La Salle, both state champions from the previous year.

So, could Notre Dame Prep one day return to the Catholic League?

"If the agree to play the schedule, they could be reinstated, but that wouldn't be until the 17-18 school year," Michaels said.

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