Robert Arrowsmith: Notre Dame brazenly ‘sports first’

Robert Arrowsmith

Robert Arrowsmith

By Robert Arrowsmith

CMI Publisher

My senior year of high school during basketball season, I had fallen asleep during a test in one of my advanced placement classes.

We got home after midnight from a road game, and I tried to study that night until almost 3.

The teacher’s response was to let me know I should have just mentioned that I had a late game and I could have taken the test another time. I didn’t know what to think.

Thursday, Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly admitted that all of his players are at-risk academically and that the university will do its best going forward to provide the resources necessary for players to succeed in the classroom.

“I think we recognized that all of my football players are at-risk — all of them — really,” Kelly told Notre Dame Insider. “Honestly, I don’t know that any of our players would get into the school by themselves right now with the academic standards the way they are. Maybe one or two of our players that are on scholarship.

“So making sure that with the rigors that we put them in — playing on the road, playing night games, getting home at 4 o’clock in the morning, all of the demands that we place on them relative to the academics and going into an incredibly competitive academic classroom every day — we recognize this is a different group. And we have to provide all the resources necessary for them to succeed and don’t force them into finding shortcuts.”

According to Sports Illustrated, Kelly, university president John I. Jenkins and athletic director Jack Swarbrick met this offseason to discuss issues for student-athletes at Notre Dame.

“I think we’ve clearly identified that we need to do better,” Kelly told Notre Dame Insider. “And we’re not afraid to look at any shortcomings that we do have and fix them, and provide the resources necessary for our guys. Our university has looked at that, and we’re prepared to make sure that happens for our guys.”

My jaw opened so far I almost locked it.

According to the US News and World Report, as of 2013, Notre Dame is the 16th-ranked institution for higher learning in this country. But I had to laugh. While most schools talk about the programs they have to offer such as the field of science, medical research, engineering, do you know what the short bio on Notre Dame was?

“The University of Notre Dame is a private, independent, Catholic institution in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame’s athletic teams, known as the Fighting Irish, play in the NCAA Division I and are particularly competitive on the football field.”

Wow.

But that wasn’t my point to begin with. My jaw dropped because a coach so confidently talked about how the institution of higher learning needed to help his football players because frankly they would most likely not be in school for their level of academics.

I know, I know. We do not watch chemists on Saturday afternoons in the fall. I know athletics plays a huge role in revenue streams for Division I institutions. I know, I know.

But to be so brazen to admit that your kids wouldn’t be in school. If there was ever a more honest case of “we are here for sports first,” I have not seen it. At least some of the coaches try to fake it.

Robert Arrowsmith is publisher of Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

rarrowsmith@cnjonline.com

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