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Football weekend security spurs ad hoc group

Kaitlynn Riely | Tuesday, October 14, 2008

University President Fr. John Jenkins has created an ad hoc committee to review football weekend safety and security protocol, due to written and telephoned complaints to Notre Dame about the strength of enforcement at games this season, Assistant Vice President for News and Information Dennis Brown said Monday.

“We have one of the most hospitable college sports venues in the country and routinely receive compliments, even from opposing team fans …” Brown said. “But at the same time, concerns have been expressed about aspects of our safety and security procedures.”

The creation of the ad hoc committee is a response “in particular to people who have called or written and provided specific information,” Brown said.

Following the Purdue game Sept. 27 at Notre Dame Stadium, message boards on NDNation.com were filled with posts alleging overly aggressive behavior by police and ushers who staffed the game.

Police arrested just over 100 people during the four Saturdays games have been held at Notre Dame Stadium so far this season.

In a news release Monday, Jenkins said those who staff the football games “recognize that they can improve.”

“Many dedicated staff work extremely hard to welcome more than 85,000 people to campus each football weekend, ensure their safety and make the Notre Dame football game-day experience one of the most enjoyable and celebrated in college athletics,” Jenkins said. “While proud of their work, they recognize that they can improve, and they look for every opportunity to do so.”

The committee will review Notre Dame football weekend protocols and practices, consider concerns raised and offer suggestions about improving football weekends, the release said.

The University has created a Web site at http://nd.edu/gameday. The site was activated Monday, Brown said. The online form includes a comment section and asks for the person’s name, e-mail address, phone and address. The required fields for the form are name and comment, Brown said.

Jenkins and his administration chose 10 people, representing different constituencies and with different areas of expertise, to sit on the ad hoc committee, Brown said.

Student body president Bob Reish, a senior, will sit on the committee as the student representative.

“I am very excited to hear about the development of this committee,” Reish said. “It shows the University administrative offices, specifically the Office of the President, are listening to student concerns and making an effort to seek a better understanding.”

He added: “I’m a firm believer that an organization should always seek to evaluate and improve the current practices of a process, particularly if there have been concerns expressed,” he said. “Having this type of direct access to the Office of the President and the members of this committee speaks to the University’s goal to continually seek to improve its current practices.”

According to the release, Reish will join nine other people on the committee:

u Stephanie Gallo, the chair of the Student Affairs Committee of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and senior director of marketing for the E. and J. Gallo Winery of Modesto, Calif. Gallo will chair the ad hoc committee.

u Bob Agnew, the senior consultant on stadium security for the NFL since 1991.

u Jill Bodensteiner, associate vice president and senior counsel for the University, and a member of the University’s general counsel’s office since 1997

u Missy Conboy, Notre Dame’s deputy athletics director and a member of the athletic department staff for 20 years.

u Ann Firth, associate vice president for student affairs and a member of the student affairs senior staff since 1992.

u Fr. Peter Jarret, the religious superior for the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame, and previously the rector of Keough Hall for five years.

u Tim McOsker, a partner in the Los Angeles law firm Mayer Brown, specializing in legal issues related to public safety and governmental, regulatory and administrative law.

u Richard Nussbaum, a past president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association and a partner in the South Bend law firm Sopko, Nussbaum, Inabnit & Kaczmarek.

u Frank Supovitz, the senior vice president for event management for the NFL.

Jenkins’ chief of staff, Francis Shavers, will serve as the staff liaison for the committee and will assist in its work, the release said.