After the Easter holiday, the Irish got back to practice today, amidst a rain storm that forced them inside midway through practice. After the session was over, coach Brian Kelly formally addressed the media.
One of the obvious topics of discussion was the passing of Matt James. Kelly described learning about the tragedy.
“I got a call immediately from Florida,” Kelly said. “Somebody close to him notified me directly and, obviously, my first instinct was to see how we could help the family. We were able to arrange transportation for the family that night and that whole night for me was reaching out and making sure we could at Notre Dame do everything possible to help the family at such a tragic time.”
The James family flew to Florida along with high school coach Steve Specht, arriving on Saturday morning. They returned to Cincinnati with their son and will formally commemorate his life at a private service on Friday, where Kelly and his staff will be.
“We’re going to fly out as a staff Friday to the memorial,” Kelly continued. “Obviously, Matt did not play here, but he will always be a part of the Notre Dame family. We want to make sure that that message is clear when we are there. Our entire staff will be there and Kyle Rudolph will attend. Kyle will represent our players.”
Kelly made it a very clear point that Matt James would continue to be a part of the Irish football program, even though he’ll never be able to wear the gold helmet. And Kelly’s relationship with James, both from his Notre Dame days and his connection from Cincinnati was obvious.
“I had a close relationship with him,” Kelly said. “He came to Notre Dame because of Notre Dame first and foremost. But he also came because of me. And, obviously, it’s very difficult when you lose somebody at any age but when you had a close relationship with them, it’s hard.”
Notre Dame is discussing plans right now to honor James symbolically next season, but they’ve come to no decision yet.