New racial brouhaha at Notre Dame…

Another year, another racial brouhaha at my alma mater. On Tuesday, former Notre Dame player and Heisman winner Paul Hornung gave a radio interview in which he offered this analysis of our string of losing seasons: “We can’t stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we’ve got to get the black athlete. We must get the black athlete if we’re going to compete.” What an ass. The university was understandably annoyed and commentators were offended. I especially liked this scathing response: “Never mind that about half of Notre Dame’s current roster is black. Never mind that Notre Dame football doesn’t lack black athletes, just great athletes. That’s irrelevant. Of significantly greater relevance is Hornung’s assumption that academic standards must be lowered to give the darkies, er … I mean the colored, er … I mean the black athletes a chance. After all, the white athletes clearly have no problem meeting these standards — the evidence being the brilliant sociological elucidation offered by Professor Hornung.” Right on. After initially defending his boneheaded remarks, Hornung today apologized.

He reminds me of the chubby kid on the tour my Mom and I took for prospective students back in 1994. Most of us wanted to hear about student life and classes, but that idiot only wanted to know if we’d get to go inside the stadium. Finally the tour guide snapped. “Look,” he said, “if all you’re interested in is football, don’t apply. Notre Dame is a tough school and there are only six home games a year. A Notre Dame degree is about more than being just a fan.” We nearly applauded.


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  1. i HATE how some people blame academic standards for Notre Dame’s recent decline in success on the football field. Does Duke lower its standards to get a great basketball team? Or UNC to get great women’s soccer? No. Why does everyone assume that you have to lower a school’s standards to get good football players? are football players inherently stupider than the rest of the general population? of course not. throwing race into it just makes people like Hornung sound bigoted in addition to idiotic. personally, i’m proud of the fact that my alma mater has the highest graduation rate in the country for Division I athletes. most college athletes don’t go pro; at least ND’s get an education out of the experience.

  2. It is well true that Notre Dame should be proud of its academic record with student-athletes, but it is also well true that a number of the best high school football players each year are automatically ruled out from Notre Dame because they don’t have the grades. This only becomes more true as Notre Dame improves itself academically.

    Notre Dame holds itself to higher standards than other schools, and as a result the gigantic lineman who is barely eligible for college doesn’t even consider Notre Dame.

    That’s cool if that’s what ND wants to do (and personally I am also proud that we don’t compromise our committment to quality students), but it means missing out on many great athletes.

    Hornung’s mistake was saying “the black athlete” rather than “the best athletes.”

    [Perhaps it should not be mentioned that many (most?) of the best high school football players are black].

  3. Well, I agree. It’s true that our standards do keep some good athletes out. I just felt that his statement was implying that the best black athletes would struggle to make the academic cut, while obviously it wasn’t a problem for whites. You’re right, if he had said “the best athletes” there wouldn’t have been any outcry at all.

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