Mar 2, 2010, 6:00 PM EDT
Before even getting hired as the head coach at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly compared the high-profile position to that of a city mayor. It’s not a surprise that with Kelly’s background in politics, he’s taken to his new job quite well.
Kelly hit the court at halftime of the Irish women’s basketball game against UConn, and did his best to keep the crowd fired up. (He also attempted the first Irish jig by a head football coach in recent memory…) Kelly may have to ask Digger Phelps for some advice for the dance moves, but he’s already proven adept at the choreographed compulsory moves that a new Notre Dame football coach needs to perform in his first months on the job.
With the minor lull before Spring Practice begins, Kelly also took time to reach out to the faculty of football players, imploring them to push his student-athletes to reach their academic potential.
Here’s the text of the letter:
To Faculty of Football Student-Athletes:
As I begin my coaching tenure here at Notre Dame, I look forward to
supporting the faculty in their promotion of a rich and challenging
academic culture. Furthermore, I hope to reinforce your individual
efforts in challenging the student-athletes on the Football Team to
maximize their academic potential. Liaising through Academic Services
for Student-Athletes, I plan to maintain specific knowledge of each
student-athlete’s academic situation.
Specifically, I would ask that faculty be consistent and forthright
in sharing academic issues with Adam Sargent and Scott Carlin in
Academic Services for Student-Athletes. Although independent from the
Athletic Department, ASSA works closely with coaches to ensure the
academic mission of the University is upheld. To assist in these
efforts, I ask that you please make note of any issues in class
attendance, including inconsistent punctuality, and pass along any and
all relevant details to Adam and Scott. Moreover, I expect our players
to not only be present in class but to also establish a positive class
presence: to be attentive, engaged, and participatory on a regular
basis. Again, only through your assistance in disseminating
information, can ASSA and I know what is occurring in each one of your
In all, I embrace the opportunity to support your efforts in cultivating academic growth among
these students. I request that you share your experiences,
concerns, and insights regarding the players’ successes and
shortcomings within your particular courses.
Thank you in advance for continually furthering the learning
experience for both the football student-athletes as well as the
greater student body. I appreciate all that you do to propel the
mission of the University, and best of luck in all of your current
Head Football Coach
The head football coach trying to get in good with the faculty that teaches his players isn’t a ground-breaking move, but it is proof that Kelly is leaving no stone unturned as he attempts to change the culture of the football program. Kelly has consistently stressed academics wherever he’s been, and his Cincinnati Bearcats program had the highest GPA of any team in the BCS last season.
This isn’t meant to be an indictment on the previous regime, a coaching staff that achieved great things off the field with Notre Dame’s student-athletes. But Kelly’s open approach to leadership seems like a breath of fresh air into the football program.