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Acknowledging football problems

Kevin O'Neill | Tuesday, April 27, 2004

In his April 23 article, Andrew Soukup correctly identifies the football program’s poor performance as a decade-long malaise. In contrast, University spokesmen John Heisler and Dave Duerson trivialize alumni dissatisfaction as an overreaction to one bad season. If this is what Notre Dame’s executives believe, the football program is in serious trouble.We have had unprecedented numbers of losing seasons and lopsided losses over the last 10 years. There is no defense for the management of the program during that time. If we are doing the right things, we are not doing them very well. More likely, we are a victim of poor management practices, many easy to observe. For example:-The unqualified candidate list of replacements for Lou Holtz that resulted in hiring a first-time head coach who was not up to the job. -Allowing Bob Davie’s tenure to wind down without developing and vetting a list of qualified and interested replacements. -The embarrassing search processes when replacing Bob Davie. -The Joe Moore lawsuit. -The passive approach taken during the NCAA investigation of Kim Dunbar’s relationship with the program, resulting in the absurd finding of a major infraction.These are public examples of poor management. If public examples consistently display mismanagement, why would we believe that things are better behind closed doors?Like other high level managers, Kevin White should have performance objectives, general parameters and constraints, and freedom to work within those constraints to achieve his objectives. When he has to work through a coaching search committee stocked with several members who have no experience in the business of college athletics and when the Office of Student Affairs decides scheduling issues, it is hard to argue that Dr. White has the authority he needs to succeed. Such meddling in the business of athletics is as absurd as having the Athletics staff searching for the Dean of the College of Engineering or writing research grant applications.Hiring good people and giving them the authority to do their jobs is what the program needs. Amateurs must stop meddling, even if they have lofty titles.

Kevin O’NeillalumnusClass of 1976April 26