Notre Dame Football

Mike Moffett

 by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist

NEWS ITEM— The University of Notre Dame is forfeiting all football victories from the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to violations of NCAA rules by a student-trainer.
What? This can’t be true!
With all the shenanigans that we know go on with so many big-time college football programs, is the NCAA actually going to screw the Fighting Irish like this? Over a student-trainer?
Apparently.
USA TODAY reported that the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel ruled the student-trainer violated ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct by helping two football players complete their coursework. Three players allegedly committed individual academic misconduct, violating the school’s academic integrity policy. The student-trainer also provided inappropriate assistance to six other players.

Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is not pleased with the current NCAA ruling.
Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is not pleased with the current NCAA ruling.

My Fighting Irish went 12-0 in 2012 before losing the national championship game to Alabama, so “vacating” all those wins really hurts Notre Dame alumni—like myself.
OK. Now while I HAVE been to South Bend, I’ve never taken any classes there. I’m what they call a “Subway Alumnus,” an Irish-Catholic who considers himself to be part of the Notre Dame family. So yes, this hurts.
And all this was due to a student-trainer? So the NCAA sanctions were based on individual malfeasance, not institutional. So why punish the whole team, coaches, cheerleaders, students, faculty, graduates and subway alumni?
Why indeed?
And Notre Dame has always been seen as a “clean” program, unlike so many others whose names I need not mention. (But think of Trojans, Hurricanes, and Cowboys.)
The trauma of Penn State comes to mind. The Nittany Lions were also seen as clean and exemplary, but the NCAA hammered that football program when it came out that an assistant coach was a pedophile. But that represented malfeasance by an INDIVIDUAL, and along with other individuals who may have enabled or covered up Jerry Sandusky’s reprehensible actions. Was it right to punish an INSTITUTION which otherwise had such a sparkling record as an exemplary football program? (Unlike … well … Trojans, Hurricanes, Cowboys, and their ilk.)
The NCAA rulebook is many inches thick. Perfect compliance is near-impossible. Bending rules and getting around countless regulations has become an art form. It reminds me of our tax code AND the United States Law Code, which requires several shelves of books listing around 5000 crimes—many of which most of us have probably unknowingly committed.
The NCAA rule book, the tax code, and the law code create plenty of work for investigators, lawyers, compliance officials, accountants, and attorneys general. What we need are fewer laws, more common sense, adherence to ethical codes, and personal responsibility. And transparency. Light is a great disinfectant.
Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is naturally upset. (BTW, isn’t that a great Irish name for a Fighting Irish head coach?) Kelly said the school would appeal the NCAA’s actions.
Good
I’m not sure how the appeal process works or if a court will eventually get involved. But the Court of Public Opinion has already ruled for Notre Dame and against the NCAA.
Rumor has it that the Pope is a Notre Dame fan and is not pleased. And I believe the Pope can wield some significant influence. So if it comes down to the Pope vs. the NCAA, I’d put my money on “Il Papa,” even if he isn’t Irish. Look for the order to vacate victories to be … VACATED! (Don’t mess with the Pope!)
Go Notre Dame!

Sports Quiz
What team forced a Game 7 in the NBA Finals after being down three game to none? (Answer follows)

Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on Dec. 1 include golf legend Lee Trevino (1939) and former Cincinnati Reds slugger George Foster (1948).

Sportsquote
“Don’t call ‘em dogs. Dogs are loyal and they run after balls.”—1943 St. Louis Browns Manager Luke Sewell, responding to a sportswriter who suggested that his team had “played like dogs.”

Sportsquiz Answer
The 1951 New York Knicks lost the first three games of the Finals to the Rochester Royals but won the next three to force a Game 7 in Rochester, which the Royals won 79-75. The Royals later moved to Cincinnati, then Kansas City, and are now the Sacramento Kings.

Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord, while also teaching on-line for New England College. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.