Notre Dame will be playing in the college football championship game. One person not watching will be Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, who committed suicide in September 2010. She said she had been raped ten days earlier by a Notre Dame football player, who not only was never charged but who also is still on the team.
This story, which should curdle the blood of any fan or human being, is not mine. The Chicago Tribune broke it two years ago this month. Earlier this year, Melinda Henneberger of The Washington Post, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, had more details, and also probed the larger file of unreported cases of sexual and other misconduct by Notre Dame football players.
Updating it all in this week’s Sports Illustrated, writer TIm Layden sketches a culture eerily similar to that of the late Joe Paterno at Penn State. At both universities, the administrators responsible for investigating and imposing discipline in these incidents were driven into exile by the special treatment demanded and achieved by their football potentates.
“Old Notre Dame will win over all….”
Including, it seems, over decency, honor, or anything else impinging on its football profits. The U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics data-analysis tool pegged those at $43,228,691 in the year before the Fighting Irish made their glorious return to No. 1.