Notre Dame Athletic Director’s Pants Smoking — Assertion of Attorney-Client Privilege With USA Swimming in Sex Abuse Doesn’t Hold Water

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“Mr. Swarbrick is not available to discuss matters performed in his capacity as an attorney and thus subject to attorney-client privilege.”

Your humble blogger’s theme of the week is the particular contribution of Jack Swarbrick, athletic director at No. 1-ranked football factory Notre Dame, in the collective dissembling by high-salaried sports industry bureaucrats over sexual abuse in their pure-as-the-driven-snow enterprises.

Prior to becoming Notre Dame A.D. in 2008, Swarbrick was a partner at the Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels (now Faegre Baker Daniels). Deposed in April of this year in the civil lawsuit against USA Swimming by a former swimmer, Jancy Thompson, over her molestations across years by her coach Norm Havercroft, Swarbrick claimed not to remember a conversation in which John Leonard, executive director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, has testified that Swarbrick advised Leonard and Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming, that their sport needed to move aggressively to get a handle on the sex abuse issue.

Swarbrick testified under oath: (a) that he doesn’t recall the conversation with Leonard and Wielgus and (b) that his legal work included representing USA Swimming and thus he can’t be compelled to talk about any of that because of attorney-client privilege.

The transcript of Swarbrick’s deposition has been uploaded to

I don’t know which is more pertinent to the narrative of the decades-long scandal of covered-up sex abuse by coaches in youth swim programs.  Swarbrick’s assertion of an attorney-client relationship bearing on this question takes us down one path. The possibility that Swarbrick is lying about the existence or scope of that attorney-client relationship takes us down another. Both paths meet at the corner of “WALK” and “DON’T WALK”: a connection between the shocking and unacceptable mistreatment of young athletes in open amateur sports such as swimming, and the consequences-free rapes of women by football players at places like Notre Dame.

In March of this year, Washington Post writer Melinda Henneberger did a piece for the National Catholic Reporter headlined “Reported sexual assault at Notre Dame campus leaves more questions than answers.” See If you believe the thoroughness and integrity of Henneberger’s work, as I do, then you will never again be able to watch the Fighting Irish in the Bowl Championship Whatever with quite the same … enthusiasm.

You also will reflect appropriately on what the ties between Jack Swarbrick and Chuck Wielgus — as attorney and client; as heads of sports institutions with a lot of explaining to do about sex crimes in their midst; or just as fellow backslapping CEO’s — tell us about the national disgrace that our out-of-control athletic spectacles have become.

Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick