Athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced the decision to fire Weis on Monday.
"For many of you who may have thought that was a foregone conclusion, I would say to you that the decision was harder than you might have thought, principally because of the man it involved," Swarbrick said at a news conference on campus.
Swarbrick said there was a huge gulf between the coach's brash image and personal style. Still, he recommended to the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, on Sunday night that Weis be let go with six years left on his contract. Weis finishes with a 35-27 record in five seasons, among the worst of any Fighting Irish coach.
Assistant head coach Rob Ianello will step in for Weis until a new coach is hired.
The Fighting Irish (6-6) are eligible to play in a bowl game, but Swarbrick has said he wants to hear from the players before deciding whether Notre Dame will go to a minor bowl.
Speculation about possible replacements for Weis has been rampant for weeks. Among the top names mentioned, Florida's Urban Meyer and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops already have said they plan to stay where they are.
Speaking on a conference call Monday, Stoops said: "I'm going to be at Oklahoma next year, so I can't be at two places at once."
HOW WEIS WENT WRONG
A self-confident offensive coordinator with the NFL champion New England Patriots when he was hired, Charlie Weis raised Irish expectations with back-to-back appearances in BCS bowl games in his first two seasons. Since then, though, Notre Dame has gone 16-21 -- the most losses by the Irish in a three-year span. Here are some of the reasons Weis won't be completing his 10-year contract:
BAD PERFORMANCE: In 2007, the Irish started 0-5 for the first time in school history. They finished 3-9, leaving Weis a loss shy of matching Bob Davie's school record of 16 losses in his first three seasons. In the past two seasons, the Irish have collapsed in November. A year ago, they got off to a 5-2 start before going 1-4 down the stretch. This year, they finished with four tough losses.
BAD ATTITUDE: Notre Dame fans who celebrated Weis' cockiness when he was winning grew tired of his Jersey attitude when the Irish started losing, with many calling him arrogant.
BAD DEFENSE: The Irish never finished higher than 39th in the country in total defense.