SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) _ Now that Notre Dame has bucked tradition and agreed to put permanent overhead lights on the stadium, regular night games can't be far behind.

Not so, said the Rev. William Beauchamp, the university's executive vice president.

``It's just an environment we'd like to avoid. To us, college football is to be played in the afternoon,'' he said. ``If we said no night games, there are no night games.''

That sounds pretty certain, but Beauchamp said something similar last July about lights on Notre Dame Stadium. On Tuesday, the university announced permanent lights will be installed at the request of NBC, which has paid a reported $40 million over five years for the rights to Irish home games.

There have been a few night games at Notre Dame _ the last was the 1990 home opener against Michigan _ but the university has done its best to avoid them. Night games disrupt campus life, and fans are likely to drink more alcohol at daylong tailgate parties than ones that last for just a few hours, Beauchamp said.

Not having lights was one way for Notre Dame to avoid night games. But their absence has caused problems when NBC broadcasts games late in the year, and the network has spent up to $60,000 per game on temporary lighting.

``Late-season home games do ... require lighting to produce a quality television picture,'' Beauchamp said. ``Rather than spending the money on temporary lighting, they'd just as soon put the permanent ones up.''

Once NBC assured Notre Dame the permanent lights would not lead to night games, and planners found a way to install them so they wouldn't detract from the stadium, the university agreed, Beauchamp said.

Most of the lights will be mounted on the facade of a new press box. Lights also will be placed at the four corners of the stadium, but they will not obstruct the stadium profile.

NBC will pay for the project, which will cost between $650,000 and $700,000, Beauchamp said. The lights could be installed by November, in time for the final two homes games of the season.

``Our concern was that this was not leading to night games, and if it could be designed in such a way that we wouldn't have big light towers,'' Beauchamp said. ``The design was such that we were comfortable with it.''

Notre Dame Stadium currently is undergoing a $50 million expansion that will add 21,195 seats, bringing capacity to 80,990. When the project was announced last July, Beauchamp promised the stadium would still look _ and feel _ as it had since it opened in 1930.

That meant no skyboxes, no glitzy scoreboards, and yes, no lights.

``Our feeling was that was not Notre Dame football,'' he said then.

The entire expansion project, which began last fall, will be completed in time for the opening game of the 1997 season, against Georgia Tech.