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Monk clarifies remarks, supports Weis

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

After expressing public embarrassment last week about the decision to fire Tyrone Willingham, University President Father Edward Malloy explained his attention-grabbing remarks Monday and offered his support for Charlie Weis.

“I was not a definitive voice and I was not the one who initiated the action. The impression had been gained that I was, and I was simply trying to clarify the record that I wasn’t and had a disagreement about that choice,” Malloy said. “But people of goodwill can disagree about such matters, and I don’t want that to stand in the way of good relationship with coach Weis.”

During the course of the football season, Malloy met with Irish athletic director Kevin White on many occasions to discuss the direction of the program. Malloy felt the University had chosen Willingham as its coach and barring tragic events that coach should have a time span that is generally five years.

Malloy made his comments at the panel titled “Role of the President or Chancellor in Overseeing Intercollegiate Athletics” at the Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. He was on the panel along with presidents from Ohio State and Vanderbilt and Myles Brand, president of the NCAA.

In June 2001, the Knight Commission published “A Call to Action: Reconnecting College Sports and Higher Education.” Monday, Malloy cited one of the report’s principles that states the responsibility and authority for the administration of the athletics department are vested in the president. This includes issues related to basic policies, personnel and finances.

“I was in a long-established commitment for a conference in New York,” Malloy said. “The other people that were on it were all people I know. The things we talked about were all serious.

“I knew I was probably going to be asked and was expecting that. I wanted to clarify my position, which I felt I did, and I have nothing else to say about that.”

During this presidential transition process, long-term decisions like a football coaching change affect both the current and future administrations. Malloy deferred to University President-elect Father John Jenkins at this time, following University President Emeritus Theodore Hesburgh’s example.

“I feel in the administration here we have a very harmonious group,” Malloy said. “The transition has gone well with Father Jenkins, and I have talked about all the significant matters along the way and when I pass along the mantle. I have great confidence in the job he’ll do and all the people who assist him.”

After the turmoil during the past two weeks, Jenkins feels Notre Dame is “absolutely” ready to put all of the criticism behind it and move on. He said Notre Dame is ready to put it in the rearview mirror and move forward.

The reason it’s been so tough for Notre Dame during all of the media criticism, is the University’s high profile.

“People look at it and people attend to it. When we go to follow coaches, the press follows us around and that’s not true at every school. We welcome that scrutiny,” Jenkins said. “We think we have it because we have high ideals for our program. We are going to keep them, and we are going to meet them. We’ll be able to put us behind us, and we look forward to the future.”