'Let's move forward,' Notre Dame coach says

Updated: April 3, 2004, 2:33 AM ET
Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham dismissed comments by former Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung that the school needs to lower its academic standards to admit more black athletes.

"I believe the things that were said really have no merit, so therefore they deserve no real comment from me," Willingham said after spring practice Thursday. "Let's move forward."

In a radio interview Tuesday, Hornung said that Notre Dame needs to lower its academic standards to "get the black athlete." The next day, Hornung said he was wrong and should have said the university needs to lower its standards to get better athletes in general.

Notre Dame spokesman Matthew Storin said in a statement Wednesday that the 1956 Heisman winner was an illustrious alumnus, but that his comments were "generally insensitive and specifically insulting to our past and current African-American student-athletes."

Willingham, Notre Dame's first black head coach in any sport, on Thursday declined to answer further questions about Hornung or whether Notre Dame needs to change its academic standards. In the past he has said there is no need for the school to change its academic standards.

Linebacker Brandon Hoyte, who is black, said he was surprised by Hornung's comments.

"I think regardless of who says it, whenever you hear a comment like that you're always overtaken and you're always shocked," he said.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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