April 2, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 97  

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10-yard penalty for racism

Gazette File Photo
DON’T BE HATIN’, MISTA FRODO. Sean Astin, who played Rudy in the movie — you guessed it — Rudy, takes a brooding pose to condemn the racist comments of his fictitious co-alumnus. Astin sez: “Don’t mess with the bling-bling Ring.”

DETROIT (AP) — Football great Paul Hornung said in a radio interview that his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, needs to lower its academic standards to “get the black athlete.”

“As far as Notre Dame is concerned, we’re going to have to ease it up a little bit,” Hornung told Detroit’s WXYT-AM in an interview before the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame banquet Tuesday.

WXYT’s sister station, WWJ-AM in Detroit, played a portion of the interview for The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Hornung, who is white, won the 1956 Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame. He went on to star for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“We can’t stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we’ve got to get the black athlete,” Hornung said. “We must get the black athlete if we’re going to compete.”

Hornung and Notre Dame associate athletic director John Heisler did not immediately return phone messages left by the AP on Wednesday.

Hornung, who is part of the Westwood One Radio team that broadcasts Notre Dame games, has previously criticized the school, saying its academic requirements have hurt the athletic department.

“We open up with Michigan, then go to Michigan State and Purdue — those are the first three games, you know, and you can’t play a schedule like this unless you have the black athlete today,” he said. “You just can’t do it.”

Notre Dame’s football team went 5-7 last season, its second under Tyrone Willingham, the first black head coach in any sport in school history.

Of the 68 scholarship players on the Notre Dame roster for spring practice, 35 are black and 33 are white. Of the incoming freshmen, 12 are black and five are white. If no one leaves the program, 55.2 percent of Notre Dame’s football players next season would be black.

According to the latest NCAA statistics available, during the 2001/02 season, the percentage of Division I-A football players who were white was 48.8 per cent while 43.8 per cent were black.



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