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Duerson resigns from Board of Trustees

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Dave Duerson, the former Irish football All-American who recently resigned from the Board of Trustees, leaves a legacy of pointed public comments about events surrounding the Notre Dame football program.Duerson, who was charged with two counts of battery and two counts of domestic battery Monday after allegedly assaulting his wife Thursday, had been a University trustee since 2001 and the president of the Monogram Club since 2003. He resigned as a trustee Friday and will also resign his position in the Monogram Club, University spokesman Matt Storin said.It is unclear what Duerson’s future association with Notre Dame will be, Storin said. Duerson has been outspoken about Notre Dame football in the past year. Last spring, 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 letter written by the Monogram Club, 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 told The Observer in April that people needed to move on from Notre Dame’s 5-7 finish in 2003.”Every program has its ups and downs, but that is not indicative of the direction the program is heading” he said in the April 23 edition. “It’s time to move on [from the criticism]. Nobody is more upset about last year’s finish than those student-athletes and the coaching staff.”Duerson also responded to Notre Dame’s 1956 Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung’s comments about Notre Dame’s standards.”We can’t stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because gotta get the black athlete,” Hornung, who later apologized, told Detroit’s AM-1270 The Sports Station, an ESPN radio affiliate in March. “We must get the black athlete if we’re going to compete.”Duerson responded to Hornung’s comments by saying he should lose his job as a radio broadcaster for Notre Dame football. Hornung was later fired from his broadcasting position. Duerson spoke out most recently after Notre Dame football coach Tyrone Willingham was fired in November 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 in December. “There’s greater dissension in some other things at the University that need to be corrected and dealt with.”Duerson, who now resides in Highland Park, Ill., was a two-time All-American defensive back at Notre Dame, where he played from 1979-1983, and still holds the all-time record for career interception yardage. 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). He earned four all-Pro honors in his 11 seasons with the Bears, Giants and Phoenix Cardinals.Duerson was also well-known in the league for his service activities. He was named the 1987 NFL Man of the Year and 1988 NFL Humanitarian of the Year for his work with substance abuse prevention and Special Olympics. Duerson also sponsored free football camps in Chicago and his hometown of Muncie, Ind., teaching fundamentals of the game and stressing the values of education and drug and alcohol prevention.After football, Duerson went back to school, graduating from the Harvard Business School’s executive education program in 2001. Duerson’s achievements then extended to the business world. He served as the majority owner, president and CEO of Fair Oaks Farms from 1995-2002, during which the company’s sales increased from $24 million to $63 million. His company, Duerson Capital Holdings, sold its interest in Fair Oaks Farms in February 2002. Following the sale, a partnership with Johnsonville Sausage, LLC was created, and the new Duerson Foods plant opened in April 2003.Duerson also served on the Mendoza College of Business executive board and is chairman of the Dave Duerson Foundation, which helps students who are pursuing entrepreneurial studies. Duerson’s term as the president of the Monogram Club would have ended in June, when Julie Doyle was slated to take office. He was the 1990 Monogram Club Member of the Year.