Accident is defined as an unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm.
In Declan Sullivan’s case unfortunately his unfortunate accident resulted in death.
Is what happened to Sullivan truly an accident or was it was an act of stupidity on the part of the Notre Dame coaching staff and head coach Brian Kelly?
Was the situation preventable?
The fact Kelly’s team isn’t very good is irrelevant. Kelly was hired to win football games and lead the Irish in a direction that can deemed respectable. His football program is not garnering respect, and Kelly is not taking the level of responsibility he should in what happened to Sullivan.
The head coach is responsible for all that transpires within the program. Coaches recruit the best players possible to give the program the best chance to win on Saturdays.
The head coach is also responsible for the safety and well-being of his players, coaching staff and all others who help the team function. Obviously Sullivan was a part of the team in some capacity therefore his safety should have been considered like everyone else’s.
Let’s be blunt here: There is no way in hell Sullivan should have been on a 50-foot lift attempting to tape a mediocre team practice in less than ideal weather conditions. Furthermore, the team should have practiced inside under such windy conditions.
A young man loses his life because the coaching staff wasn’t astute enough to exercise adult judgment to contemplate whether it was too dangerous for someone to be on a 50-lift taping a practice session. It’s not like it was a game.
We are talking about practice here.
Not a game. Practice.
Sullivan himself obviously knew the conditions were bad from the Tweets he sent. We know at least it entered his mind to some degree it wasn’t a good idea to be on a lift in 50-60 MPH winds filming a practice.
Is it possible Sullivan expressed to the coaching staff he didn’t want to get on the lift but was encouraged to do so?
Is it possible Sullivan confided in someone on the team?
Without question there will be a thorough investigation into what actually transpired leading up to Sullivan’s untimely death.
Ultimately what must be established here is who is really accountable here and to what degree?
Should Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick fire Kelly?
Should Kelly resign?
The fact the Irish are a bad football team is besides the point; what matters here is that Sullivan died as a result of something that may have been prevented if someone utilized something that called common sense. Since Kelly is the leader of the program, should he shoulder the bulk of the responsibility of what happened on his watch?
Let’s say Notre Dame was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. Let’s say they have a Heisman Trophy candidate and Kelly’s team is blasting opponents with methodical precision.
It is logical to assume Kelly would be praised as a hit by the university?
Would he be credited with restoring the program back to the days of old?
Would the Irish administration be happy they got someone to do what Bob Davie, Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis couldn’t do, and that’s win?
It is logical to assume that Kelly would be showered with praises from the mainstream media and quite possibly be in line as a hot coach for the NFL.
Assuming the latter to be true, isn’t also fair for Kelly to pay the piper if things go south?
Isn’t logical to request that if someone dies in such a fashion as Sullivan did that Kelly be held responsible to some degree?
If Swarbrick doesn’t fire Kelly, perhaps the only dignified thing Kelly could do is own the situation and resign. Taking some form of action that is not prompted by the university would indicate Kelly is embracing the situation. The act of stepping aside would suggest he was responsible for what happened and the buck stops with him—good, bad or indifferent.
What do you think?