Alums say Irish prefer money to wins

Updated: February 16, 2004, 8:01 PM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- More than 400 Notre Dame alumni signed a letter to the school saying the football program needs to make significant progress next season or "a coaching change will become necessary."

The letter is dated Jan. 26 and was sent to Notre Dame's board of trustees.

"We have 100,000 alumni and we hear from any number of them on any number of topics. We take virtually all of them seriously," Notre Dame spokesman Matt Storin said Monday. "Whether the board of trustees will respond, I can't say, but it is doubtful they would debate these matters in the media."

The letter is critical of the football program, saying Notre Dame has made several poor coaching hires and placed more importance on making money than winning games.

It also asked that someone from outside the university be appointed to the vacant position of executive vice president and concentrate on finances, administration and athletics. The Rev. Edward Malloy, university president, has been handling those duties since 2002.

"The key point of this is that we feel that the football program itself is an integral part of what the university is all about," Tim Kelley, a 1964 graduate who co-wrote the letter, told The Indianapolis Star. "It's not just football for football's sake."

Kelley said the letter is not asking that coach Tyrone Willingham be fired. He said a similar letter was sent to the board three years ago, when Bob Davie was coach.

The Fighting Irish started 8-0 in 2002, Willingham's first season as coach. Since then, they have gone 7-10.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press