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.