Does Football @ Notre Dame Matter…

Yesterday was GAMEDAY friends! And should we be surprised that the Notre Dame vs. Michigan game was THE feature for the ESPN GameDay broadcast? No we should not… Don’t assume this is just another attempt to prop up the Notre Dame Football team, it’s not. In fact, I’ll give you an inside look at why I think Notre Dame will always matter. Regardless of the number in the wins column.

I did say “Does Football @ Notre Dame Matter”, versus “Does Notre Dame Football Matter (to the world)”. And therein lies the fundamental difference. We do care what the world thinks, it just so happens that we are ALWAYS relevant. You love us, or you hate us. Either way you care, and you expend lots of energy showing it.

1. Why even have a homecoming? If you’ve ever stepped foot on our campus during a football weekend, there are two things you will notice right away. First, you will feel the tingling running down your spine when you: see “The Word of Life” (aka Touchdown Jesus), feel the presence of God in the air, and shake the hands of proud Domers visiting from all over the world. Every home game is a “homecoming”, therefore no one weekend dominates or poses as such. In any given football weekend the game itself only occupies 4 hours out of an entire weekend, and therein lies the rub (so says the Bard). Secondly, what you may not know is that the weekend actually starts on Thursday (sometimes Wednesday) with our College Council members visiting with Deans, mentoring our students, and sharing case study experience in our many classroom sessions. Other visiting alum are participating in on-campus interviews, because they have been chosen by their firm to “recruit the best of the best” from campus. The Morris Inn (our on campus hotel) is buzzing with private equity chatter, and the news of the latest deal, that will ultimately impact our development operations at some point through a planned gift. There are so many men in khaki slacks and navy blazers that you’ll begin to think you are seeing robots in formation. It’s Notre Dame, like it or not! Notre Dame Football is the catalyst to all of this, never the focus.

2. Performance (off the field) absolutely matters! As a former Notre Dame varsity athlete (Lacrosse) and I can tell you with my hands firmly planted on the Bible that what you have heard and/or read about athletes in the classroom at Notre Dame is true. We compete on and off the field! There are NO shortcuts at Notre Dame, and because of that the rigor that goes into recruiting student-athletes to our campus is the highest at any major athletic institution. Here’s what you don’t know… many of our athletes have accumulated enough credits by the time they complete their junior year to graduate early. There are no “athlete” friendly majors. The GPA average of the student body versus that of the student-athletes is within one/two tenths of a point. Every single team has assigned to it an academic counselor that has team academic performance linked to their own professional performance. How would you like your professional future to be determined by the classroom performance of late teenagers? While we may not be regularly ranked in the top ten athletically, we will always be in the top 1-2-3 relative to Graduation Rates. It’s truly what matters most. Because of that rigor and attention to detail it’s quite rare NOT to find our former athletes doing well as professionals across multiple corporate disciplines. Tradition never graduates… Our alum REALLY believe (as do I) that we can have both. Great athletes AND high academic standards.

3. It’s never by coincidence. When ever I travel I ALWAYS have on a Notre Dame lapel pin. That pin represents my life’s story, not Notre Dame athletics. It’s simply because of pride, but never hubris. From the time I was admitted to Notre Dame, I knew that my life and expectations of it, had changed (for the good) for ever. Why? After that point I was looked at differently, treated differently, and held to a much different standard. All of which I continue to accept with open arms. What’s hardest to articulate is why I find all of this to be true. In my five years working inside of Notre Dame Development I see clearly just how relevant we are, and will always be. For example… Notre Dame ranks in the top 2 for the highest number of CEO’s running our US companies. West Point is our competition, not the likes of the Ivy’s. Fundraisers understand why that is game-changing, others may not initially. The gravity of that starts to set in when combined with the sheer fanaticism that is the Notre Dame Alumni. Offices are decorated in Notre Dame colors… CEO’s send their top managers back to Notre Dame to study in our Leadership Institute (as a result of promotion), conference rooms are designed to look like our football locker room, and autographed memorabilia adorn their lobbies… Our relevance is not by coincidence, it is ABSOLUTELY by design. We work at it every single day. You don’t have to look to hard (anywhere in the world) to find a Notre Dame influence. We believe in good doing good! We live to serve…

So as log as their is a Notre Dame, Our Lady’s University will always be relevant. There is just something about that place!

Hope you had a GREAT weekend…

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