As most of you have probably seen by now, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has sent out an email in response the the reaction from the Andy Ludwig fallout.
Thank you for your email. To paraphrase the character Terence Mann played by James Earl Jones in one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams, we admire your passion … misdirected though it might be, it is still a passion. And your passion and that of our other fans is among Notre Dame’s most valuable resources.
In this case, the passion is, however, misdirected because it springs from a fundamental misunderstanding. During our discussion with a candidate for our offensive coordinator position a national reporter accurately noted that the candidate’s buyout in his current contract was an “obstacle.” Without seeking any clarification from us, some of the individuals who comment on Notre Dame Football concluded that this meant that Notre Dame was unwilling to pay the buyout. That is not and never was the case. As a policy matter, we do not discuss the details of personnel matters but given the extraordinary reaction by you and others in this instance I am comfortable sharing that while, prior to this week, our discussions with candidates never reached the point where we extended a formal offer, we communicated clearly in each and every instance that any offer we made would include our funding of their buyout with their current institution. To the extent the buyout was an “obstacle” in the case of one candidate, that was true of a brief period of time only because of conflicting information that had been provided to us regarding the amount and mechanics of the buyout. However, it was an obstacle we knew could be quickly resolved.
In correcting the record in this instance, I also want to be clear that Notre Dame will never apologize for being a good steward of the resources provided to us by our fans and partners. Our focus is not matching the expenditures made by our competitors; it is making investments calculated to advance us toward our goals of 1) promoting the University of Notre Dame, 2) providing an unrivaled educational experience for our student-athletes, and 3) winning a national championship in football. That is why for the past decade our investment in the coach-educators who comprise our assistant coaching staff in football has always placed us among the top-10 nationally and that will continue to be the case as we support Coach Freeman in his hiring of a staff that meets the exacting criteria he articulated for me when this hiring cycle began.
Finally, given your strong interest in Notre Dame having the resources it needs to compete effectively with the most successful athletic programs in the country, I encourage you to become a member of Notre Dame’s Rockne Athletics Fund (https://giving.nd.edu/giving-societies/rockne-athletics-fund/) Through this giving society our fans, family, and alumni provide the resources that are critical to our ability to meet our commitment to provide our student-athletes with the best academic, athletic and student experience in college athletics. If you are already a contributor to the Rockne Athletics Fund, on behalf of our student-athletes I thank you for your support.
To be honest... I mostly chuckled when reading the above email. It comes off as passive aggressive and arrogant, and falls on deaf ears for one giant reason... the public and private blowback was never about this one thing. Many Notre Dame alumni and fans feel like the football program is being left behind as a national championship contender because of the inaction by the administration to make winning a title a priority.
Let’s just say that we can take what Jack wrote as 100% fact. Why were those candidates the only ones? Notre Dame was willing to pay Tommy Reese damn near 3 million dollars a year — so why isn’t that money out there to lure the best of the best? Are Andy Ludwig, Sean Lewis, Collin Klein, and Gerad Parker the best of the best?
The alumni and fans that care deeply about Notre Dame football don’t feel like Notre Dame is doing enough when it comes to MANY different parts of the football program — while prices for tickets go up for a home slate that is less than desirable most years. So while I am willing to say that many people (including myself) may have commented wrongly about certain specifics of the Ludwig debacle — that alone wasn’t the reason for the fallout.
Jack talks about being a steward of the money and making sure it isn’t wasted, but those spending the money to fill Notre Dame’s coffers are far more concerned with Jack being a steward of the football program. So when Jack includes a link for people to send in more money for Notre Dame to be a steward of — what is really happening here?
For those critical of Notre Dame over the last few weeks, I highly doubt Jack’s email does anything more than fan the flames.
My sincere hope (and I’m sure it’s Notre Dame’s as well) is that all of this is just a bunch of forgetful frustrations, and the Irish go on to have a masterful season in 2023 and beyond.