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Former trustee pleads guilty to misdemeanor

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Former Notre Dame football captain and NFL Super Bowl winner Dave Duerson, who resigned from the University’s Board of Trustees last February, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

Duerson, 45, of Highland Park, Ill., appeared Tuesday in the traffic and misdemeanor division of Superior Court in South Bend and pleaded guilty to one of four misdemeanor counts against him.

The charges stemmed from an argument between Duerson and his wife, Alicia, that took place last February in their hotel room at the Morris Inn on the Notre Dame campus, police said. The two were on campus for the winter Board of Trustees meeting. Duerson pushed his wife out the door of their room and she hit the wall, and she was treated and released from a local hospital, police said.

Duerson agreed to plead guilty to the domestic battery charge in return for three other counts against him being dismissed, Catherine Wilson, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak, told the Associated Press. The former football star is scheduled to be sentenced March 14 and faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Following his Notre Dame football career, Duerson played 11 seasons in the NFL, earning Pro Bowl honors four times and winning Super Bowl titles with the Chicago Bears in 1986 and the New York Giants in 1991. He also played for the Phoenix Cardinals.

Duerson, a 1983 Notre Dame graduate, had been a University trustee since 2001 and the president of the Monogram Club since 2003. He also resigned his position in the Monogram Club following the February charges.

Duerson had been outspoken about Notre Dame football during his tenure as a trustee. In the spring of 2004, the Monogram Club wrote a response to a letter written by a group of Notre Dame alumni that criticized the way the football program was managed. In the Monogram Club’s letter, the group claimed that the alumni letter should have never been released to the media because it hurt the University’s image, impeded the overall administration of the University and athletic department and negatively affected revenue resources.

Duerson spoke out most recently after former Notre Dame football coach Tyrone Willingham was fired in November 2004 after a 6-5 season, describing a decision that was made with great “dissension.”

“With all the other things going on at the University, the least of the problems was wins and losses,” he told the Associated Press last December. “There’s greater dissension in some other things at the University that need to be corrected and dealt with.”

Duerson, president and CEO of Duerson Foods, LLC, was a two-time All-American defensive back at Notre Dame, where he played from 1979-83. He served as tri-captain of the 1982 Irish. He went on to win two Super Bowls in the NFL for the Chicago Bears (1985), and the New York Giants (1990).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.