Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Monday, May 4, 2009

Does Notre Dame have issues with African Americans in leadership positions?

Four years ago Notre Dame unceremoniously fired the first African American football coach in the schools history in Tyrone Willingham. Currently conservative Catholics are irked because President Barack Obama was selected to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremonies in May.

What’s the problem with Notre Dame and African Americans in positions of authority?

The institution seems to have issues dealing with African Americans in leadership positions. First, coach Willingham was treated like dirt. Willingham was the first African American head coach in any sport in the schools history when he was hired in 2002. After playing one of the toughest schedules in college football Willingham was fired after posting a 6-5 record after the 2004 season. What made the firing controversial was he was the first football coach in Notre Dame’s history not finish his contract and skin color.

So the Irish found themselves a “Great White Hope” in Charlie Weis to restore the program. In Weis’ third year he posted 3-9 record. He actually set team records for losing. Unlike his predecessor Weis was rewarded with a 10-year 30 million dollar contract for losing.

This is interesting. Weis gets millions and a vote of confidence for losing while Willingham was canned after a winning season in his third year.

Weis continues to get the benefit of the doubt as his teams continue to struggle. Last season there was talk of Weiss being fired but it didn’t materialize. I guess the Notre Dame faithful will stick with their guy until the bitter end. Unfortunately Willingham wasn’t afforded the same vote of confidence as his white predecessor.


Cut the cards as you wish race played a factor. There's no way a coach should go 3-9 after his third year and get a vote of confidence while Willingham got the pink slip for 6-5 after his third year.

Willingham was treated so wrong yet there wasn’t widespread coverage in the media. Mainstream media is a white world therefore the vantage point disseminated will be as such. Yes, this happened four years ago but it’s still a hard pill to swallow.

Now the first African American President is facing turmoil from a distinct contingent of the Notre Dame faithful. Most cite President Obama’s stance on stem cell research and his pro-choice views contradict Catholics beliefs therefore he shouldn’t have been invited to speak. Some are even calling for President Obama’s commencement invitation to be revoked.

Last time I checked former President Bush was a proponent of the death penalty yet he struggled through an uneventful speech at Notre Dame in 2001 and there were no boycotts or public outcries over his presence.

Doesn’t capital punishment and abortion result in the same fate? Why is there an uproar over President Obama’s presence and there wasn’t one for former President Bush?

The short answer is Republicans are upset because an African American is the President of the United States. Conservative Catholics are utilizing this as an opportunity to publicly demonstrate their disenchantment over the ascendance of President Obama in making political history.

Does race play a factor in either Willingham’s or President Obama’s treatment by a segment of the Notre Dame hierarchy?

Without question race factored in with Willingham. He was treated like a second-class citizen. Besides, it’s not like Willingham was Notre Dame’s first choice. Reportedly he was the leading candidate for the job but was passed over. George O’Leary was hired but he resigned because he was a fraud.
The likes of Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer didn’t want the job when it was offered after Willingham was let go. With no place to turn Notre Dame finally settled for Willingham. For his efforts he was unfairly taken to the gallows while his white successor continues to be rewarded for failing.

In President Obama’s case I don’t think race is the preeminent factor but it's present. The uproar over President Obama’s stance on abortion or stem cell research isn’t the problem. The latter is a mere a smoke-screen. Conservative Catholics are just upset John McCain lost the Presidential election.

Whether you conservatives boycott or not he's still going to be President of the United States because the people voted him in. It’s not like you can impeach him or get a mulligan on the election.

The Notre Dame hierarchy had the muscle to oust Tyrone Willingham unceremoniously. I seriously doubt conservatives can do the same to President Obama.

In any event, enjoy the President Obama’s speech.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow you just make crap up to try and show a race issue. Weis (not Weiss) was not given a contract after his 3-9 season.

Willingham has been a losing coach everywhere he has been. Jump on Washington clearly they fired him for being black. Willingham was fired from Notre Dame for his inability to recruit. If he was pulling in the recruiting classes that Weis is, he would've been given 5 years.

The issues with President Obama have to do with the fact that he has views that are anti-Catholic. It has absolutely nothing to do with his race.

Get over yourself and next time do a little fact checking before you just blindly spew crap.