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USA Today: Both Kelly and Swarbrick’s jobs are safe

Nov 4, 2010, 12:51 PM EDT

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick conducted his first interview since the passing of Declan Sullivan, and told the USA Today that he isn’t resigning, nor is he asking for the resignation of head football coach Brian Kelly.

This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but will likely make headlines across the internet today, as Swarbrick’s “revelation” officially silenced a few prominent national columnists who called for Kelly’s ouster.

That doesn’t mean that Notre Dame will stop investigating the events leading up to the scissor lift falling and the death of junior Declan Sullivan.

“The fact that Declan died in this tragic accident means we didn’t do all we can,” Swarbrick told USA Today. “There’s no attempt or no interest in moving away from the fact that we should have, we must have, been able to do something to protect Declan. We’ll think about that the rest of our lives.

“We’re going to make sure we know exactly what happened,” Swarbrick said. “We feel an absolute obligation to make sure not only that we do things better at Notre Dame, but to help make the entire industry better, too. We all feel a responsibility. We all say to ourselves: ‘What could we have done differently?’ “

  1. Tim's Neighbor - Nov 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    When asked by a reporter about the difference between his recollection and Sullivan’s Twitter comments, Swarbrick replied, “Obviously, I don’t have any knowledge of what motivated his postings. None of us do.”

    That quote blows me away. I’m not sure what he’s trying to prove here other than lawyer talk.

    • kevvy1231 - Nov 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM

      What Swarbrick was saying is that we do not know what the situation was like when he posted that. It’s possible that he was being sarcastic and the kid’s fears were ironically warranted. It’s also possible that he was legitimately scared. Playing devil’s advocate could lead us to many conclusions. But for him to have a stance on an issue one way or the other will get people’s minds moving from the obvious truth: none of us can really have much of an opinion until we know more about it. For him to express too much sympathy or too much indifference suggests to the public one thing or the other WAY more than making a neutral statement, as he did. So many people have already called for his head without knowing really anything about it. If anything, I think we should be praising his ability to remain neutral…lesser men might have denied responsibility from the outset. Anyway, those are just my thoughts.

    • goldenbear15 - Nov 5, 2010 at 9:41 PM

      Let me get this straight. Notre Dame will fire a guy because of an issue with his resume but does nothing to a guy who allows something, which could have been avoided,to remain as coach. What’s wrong with this picture.

      • mdc16 - Nov 6, 2010 at 8:32 AM


        excellent point. I think the desire to restore the football program to past glory has clouded their decision making.

  2. c4evr - Nov 4, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    ‘What could we have done differently’?? uh, a little common sense perhaps. You walk outside, the wind is blowing, you look up at a kid holding a video camera 50 ft. in the air, and you say – SOMEONE GET THAT KID DOWN BEFORE SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS. I don’t know about anybody else here, but I’m personally tired of hearing the “we all feel A responsibility” to divert attention. Politicians, lawyers, and now university AD’s (Mike Garrett gets some credit, also) are all snake oil salesmen. I will home school my 3 yr. old to avoid having him streamlined into a system wherever everyone who hears these guy’s logic simply shrugs their shoulders and walks away… business as usual.

    • kevvy1231 - Nov 4, 2010 at 6:43 PM

      c4evr: I admire your passion as a parent. Alas, I think you’re oversimplifying things a bit. If the idea of the tower falling down because of wind crossed their mind (among the millions of other things head football coaches and athletic directors have to deal with), I’m sure they would have brought him down. To think that the ceased life of a kid is something that isn’t taken seriously is an unfair judgment, not having been present at the time of the accident. These guys will think about this the rest of their life. I agree that politicians and lawyers can be “slim customers”, but I don’t think it’s fair to assess that they are to blame (yet). For all we know, protocol places the burden of the decision on another person in the system. That’s why they do investigations instead of witch hunts. We’ll learn what we need to in time.

      • c4evr - Nov 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

        Point well taken, kevvy1231. And I agree this event will stay with them their entire lives. My point was not to rush to judgment, but rather to point out the ludicrous state of society today. When the pressure to turn around a foundering NCAA and national icon is so great that you can’t think straight, then it’s time for a re-assessment. You actually bolstered my case by mentioning the millions of other thoughts and preoccupations of today’s coaches/AD’s – Not the least among them being “how can I keep my job and avoid as much culpability as possible along the way”. When common sense is a casualty of a cluttered mind, then perhaps it’s time to simplify. And yes, dmacirish, while I understand and agree with idea of delegation, there are 2 sides to that same coin. Delegation can be used for greater efficiency and abused to avoid responsibility. To quote my son’s favorite movie… “First rule of leadership… it’s always your fault.” – Hopper to Princess Atta in ‘A Bug’s Life’. The pressures that beset Kelly, Swarbrick, and millions of others, are institutionalized from early childhood – I have no desire to protect my son from viruses in nature. Man-made viruses, however, are another subject.

      • c4evr - Nov 5, 2010 at 8:47 PM

        Rev. Jenkins today displayed the kind of accountability this situation calls for in his statement, “”Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe,”. I apologize for jumping the gun, I was clearly wrong to expect that accountability to come from the men ‘delegated’ to carry out that care.

    • dmacirish - Nov 5, 2010 at 11:47 AM

      really home schooling will solve things like this from happening? putting a kid in a bubble doesnt prevent them from getting sick, it only prevents their immune system from building. being that this is a metaphor and closed minded people blaming jack and brian for this situation might not understand it i will explain it. sometimes you could make a decision on your own i.e. “the wind is to strong and i will not risk my life for a game, fire me if you want but i aint going up there.” god bless him and welcome him to heaven, be with the family and help them recover from this loss – no man should have to bury his son. but everyone should understand the idea of delegation and realize that neither jack nor brian have a direct role in the videographers daily routine.

  3. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 4, 2010 at 8:23 PM

    Alas? Say Dad, is that Billy Shakespeare over there? I take umbrage to your description of lawyers as “slim customers”. In Henry VI Shakespeare wrote, “First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” While this quote is often misused, it is uttered by a minor character aptly named Dick, who is advocating total social upheaval and to hasten this, he suggests to do away with lawyers as a quick way to help the social fabric unravel. Everybody is anti-lawyer until they need one. ND has already lawyered up with Jack’s comments regarding extraordinary wind bursts and the Sullivans better lawyer up also. The lawyers will sort this whole mess out while everybody else sits around and flaps their gums.

  4. kevvy1231 - Nov 4, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    If using the word “Alas” seems Shakespearian to you, then I’ll assume you Googled Henry VI… (kidding) I don’t think ND has “lawyered up” with Jack’s comments…it’s more fair to say that he’s acting like the lawyer that he is. I hope that neither side does officially, but things have a habit of going toward that nowadays. When lawsuits are abound, only the lawyers win. (I’m trying not to sound poetic, but I JUST_CAN’T_HELP_IT!!!)

  5. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 4, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    Alas, poor Yorick it doesn’t sound Shakespearean to you?

  6. 1notredamefan - Nov 4, 2010 at 11:35 PM

    This headline should be a slap in the face to all those who really care about Notre Dame! In other words people actually took it realistically, when those idle minds called for jobs of those whom prevent deaths everyday! In college I’m more than versed on the obvious reckless nature of college life and this tragic accident was something obviously very hard for all parties associated with the program but is not something that warrants a firing! How about those universities that turn a blind eye to underage drinking and deaths by shooting and gang violence, I think USA today may want to look into a few of those programs also, might be an actual story there!

  7. mdc16 - Nov 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    typical golden domers!!! put you irrelevant football program in front of a young man’s life. as the head coach of a major college football program, it was his responsibility to insure the saftey of EVERYONE connected with the program. young people do stupid stuff all the time. why? cause the don’t know better. they don’t have the life experiences to fall back on, and at that age, you think that you’ll live forever. go ahead defend your head coach, and the ad too. that young man’s blood will be on their hands and the will stain your football program.

    • kevvy1231 - Nov 5, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      I don’t think we’re really defending them so much as saying that nobody knows what happened and that there are a variety of scenarios that could have played out that day. Be as dramatic as you want with your “blood on their hands” garbage. Unless you were there, I bet you know about as much as the rest of us. Everyone has some blame in everything they are involved with, however minimal. We are all living on the same planet and our actions affect others (and ourselves) We’ll see what the investigation comes up with. Reserve your judgment until then. I certainly will, and will defend Kelly and Swarbrick’s right to an even-handed and fair assessment in the eyes of the law.

  8. mdc16 - Nov 6, 2010 at 8:29 AM


    Be as dramatic as I want? A young man lost his life, need anymore drama? I don’t have to reserve my judgement. The responsibililty of what happens with a major college football program is on the head coach. That part of the job when they signed their contract. Obviously I’m not the only one that feels this way when 20 of ND’s biggest boosters have asked for both JS and BK to resign. I’m not naive, I’m sure the Tulsa game, and the overall record play in it as well. That pressure to win, and win now may have led to the poor decision that led to the loss of Declan Sullivan’s life. This accident just shows that the priorities at ND are a skew.

  9. kevvy1231 - Nov 6, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    mdc16: Everyone knows it’s sad the kid died. I don’t care what 20 boosters said what. They aren’t the ones with the day-to-day knowledge of football operations and probably none of them were a part of any decision-making process that led to Sullivan’s death. Suggesting that pressure to win forced the athletic department or the football head coach to make a kid go up on a tower in the wind is baseless and pure speculation. You are an armchair quarterback. At least I can admit that I don’t know anything about the details. The head coach cannot be blamed for everything. I think about the sacrifices my father and grandfather have made as head coaches in the sport they love (which involves decisions of this nature all the time), and I can’t say that everything along the way was perfect. But I can say that their every thought while on the job was about how to teach lessons of life through the sport, and they were always, ALWAYS concerned about the well-being (physical and emotional) of the kids they coached. I can’t say I know what’s going through Coach Kelly’s head, but to assume anything less about his personal mentality says more about yourself than anything Kelly has stated or acted upon to this point. I don’t know a thing about your personal experiences, but surely you can see that this is beyond the scope of one man’s decision, as are most things in life.

  10. mdc16 - Nov 8, 2010 at 7:06 AM


    never said bk or js forced him to get up on the lift. the storm the rolled thru was considered to be the worst in 70 years. common sense would of told a rational person NOT to try an practice in that kind of weather. what was there to prove? from what i’ve seen ND has enough issues just trying to run their offense in good weather. so you just keep rubbing yourself up in “irish butter” and continue being a nd apologist. and just and fyi, the boosters are the ones the fund your programs…not just football, but everything. universities count on philonthropic donations. so though you might not care about what the booster think, but i’m sure ND’s president does………….

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