ND Fans Want Championships, Not Necessarily High GPAs

Mark AllenSenior Analyst IJuly 23, 2009

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 12: Game official Jim Burr talks with Mike Brey, the Head Coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, during the Big East Conference game against the Louisville Cardinals on January 12, 2009 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Staff, Domer Sports Report

Notre Dame Sports

Recently, Domer Sports Report posed a poll question. The question was what would you rather see from ND sports programs: An overall team gpa (grade point average) of over 3.0 or a winning, National Championship program, but a gpa of under 3.0?

The results were astounding, given the outward, permeating attitude from within, with the administration, and, maybe, from without, like fans, observers, media and detractors, Notre Dame. A whopping 66 percent responded that they would prefer to have a National Championship program, while 33 percent preferred to have a team gpa of over 3.0.

What does all of this mean? Well, most of it is subjective. It is open for interpretation. Here is how the staff of Domer Sports Report sees it:

Nick Shepkowski:

"To me there its not even a question anymore on if the University of Notre Dame should slightly lower academic standards and not have as "classroom smart" of a football team if they can get that much closer to a national title on the football field. There are certain things that get under my skin as a Notre Dame fan and this one may take the cake on my list. Sure Notre Dame has tougher academic standards than other schools but when it comes to football players, the difference really is minimal.

Notre Dame does not hold its student athletes to as tough as standards to get into the school as they do their everyday students. If you can catch or throw a football well, or even tackle or block well then your chances of getting into Notre Dame go up an incredible amount. Year in and year out there is an extremely large percentage of future football players who are allowed admittance to the University of Notre Dame, only because of their athletic ability.

I would not be bothered if the University was to slightly lower standards and allow more potential players into Notre Dame. The majority of football players already get an exception when it comes to test scores and GPA's, why shouldn't all of them?

The only problem I would potentially have with lowering academic standards is if Notre Dame turned into a "Thug-U" like Miami of Florida did in the 1980's and early 90's. If the coaching staffs got to know the kids they were recruiting it would be simple to eliminate these problems before they were ever admitted to the University of Notre Dame.

Once again, I do not care what the team GPA of the Fighting Irish is. This magical number of 3.0, I would have finished below the mark in my four years of college. Does it mean I'm an idiot? Getting multiple jobs offers in my field before graduation from college would imply otherwise. I don't care about how smart someone is in a classroom, just like in sports there is life beyond that as well.

If a potential athlete seems to have a promising enough future where they would likely be seen as a "productive member of society" and not have a past of battery or abuse or any problems with that, why not admit them to the University? I don't care if someone has an ACT score of 19, does that make them a bad kid? No, what does is how they act as a person. Talking to teachers, principals, coaches, and even
those in the neighborhood would quickly get an answer to if someone has the proper fit to be allowed to attend the University of Notre Dame, even if it does end up making the Fighting Irish a less "classroom smart" team."

Brian Dascenzo:

"I don't think there is a huge issue if the team doesn't have a 3.0 GPA. Everyone knows that Notre Dame is a tough school academically. The National Championship on the other hand is a huge deal and changes the program infinitely. I don't know that we need to lower the standard that much if at all. It is harder to get great athletes that are also smart but we know that it isn't impossible to recruit smart football players to Notre Dame.

If players can't handle the courses at Notre Dame, with our without all the help they get, the issue arises of them transferring or taking semesters off and missing football season. Being smart is necessary in South Bend and having smart players shouldn't be detrimental to winning, it should help. The National Championship is something that should be thought of consistently at Notre Dame while "no one" cares if the team GPA slips to the 2.5-2.9 area. Winning solves a lot of things but Charlie and the Weisettes were able to recruit even during the two year debacle they just dealt with."

Ryan Williams:

"I, personally was surprised at the results of the poll. Myself and most of the Notre Dame fans, alumni, and overall supporters of the University that I know realize that Notre Dame is a first rate educational institution first and foremost. The athlete can never come before the student at Notre Dame. Now, am I saying that the bar must be a 3.0 GPA? That is the tricky part of the question. I almost think a different number should be used. Maybe team graduation %. A guy may struggle in a couple courses here and there, which would bring his GPA down, but if he buckled down and put the work into it needed to graduate in four years I would call his education a success even if he didn't maintain a 3.0 GPA. Would I be mad if Notre Dame won a National Championship but finished with a team average 2.8 GPA? No I wouldn't. Would I be mad if Notre Dame won a National Championship and only graduated 80% of the players on that team? Yes. Notre Dame is the only college out there who has been on the elite end of both the academic and athletic spectrum. And the only program that has done both at the same time. In 1988 Notre Dame won the football National Championship and was also awarded The Academic Achievement Awardwhich is giving to the Div. 1-A school that records the highest graduation rate of that years class.

So, in closing, do I believe that the line in the sand must be a 3.0 GPA? No, I don't. But Notre Dame must never sacrifice education for athletic accomplishments."

Clashmore Mike:

"What this poll says to me is the decade of mediocrity is weighing heavy on the Irish faithful. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Notre Dame sports is taking the concept of "student athlete" seriously, weighing the first word in that phrase as heavy — or heavier — than the second one. This simply can't change. To do so would undercut the very nature of the university.

But, you might say, 78% would lower the academic bar to get a championship, so why not? Because it isn't necessary. For years, scores of commentators — Paul Hornung himself to ESPN "experts" to anonymous bloggers have said ND needs to lower its academic standards to attract better athletes. This was particularly frequent during Coach Willingham's tenure. (Unfortunately, the real problem was simply Ty was a lousy recruiter...) The two most recent recruiting classes by Weis show that top athletes can and will come to Notre Dame. And when talent comes, so do wins. And eventually, so do championships."

Recently, Mike Brey wrote on his Twitter site that Notre Dame's basketball team had achieved a 3.1 team gpa for the last semester and were over 3.0 for the year. He punctuated it with an exclamation point. Does Mike Brey "get" Notre Dame? Well, in my opinion, that depends on the point of view. From the current and recent past administration at Notre Dame, as well as the academics, he gets it. From the Notre Dame fans' point of view, as well as the "subway alumni" he does not.

There is a difference between reality and what the academics would like. Let's be honest, Zach Hillesland's high grade point average is nice. But, is it the main course or the side dish? I maintain that it is the side dish.

The reputation of Notre Dame is two-fold: high academic standards and athletic success. But, which came first? It is obvious that athletic success came first. Academics, while admirable, is the gravy.

Notre Dame is fun to root for. Most of the time, they do it right. They admit students of high moral character who also have good academic backgrounds. I am not advocating lowering standards to allow more athletic success. Success can be achieved, in my opinion, both, academically and athletically.

Ask yourself this question. Which numbers are remembered more? The 2008-09 men's basketball team gpa or 1966, 1977 and 1988 (football National Championship seasons). Enough said?


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