Thursday, October 11, 2007

Notre Dame needs more Jesuits

Dan Wetzel makes a point apropos of many of our ND discussions:
Boston College has a whole bunch of numbers going for it right now. There is the record (6-0), the national ranking (No. 4) and the possible position in the Heisman race for quarterback Matt Ryan (No. 1).

Then there is the number that makes the Eagles one of the most unlikely national title contenders in years: 93.

That's the graduation rate for BC football players according to the latest NCAA figures. The Eagles finished third in the country behind Navy (95) and Northwestern (94).

Wetzel also notes that the Admissions Dept. at BC doesn't lower its standards for student-athletes.

I'm pulling this out because I think BC puts the lie to the old Theismann canard that ND needs to decide whether it's gonna have academic integrity or a quality football program, because "athletes" (generally assumed to be African American football recruits with 4.3 40's) just can't perform to strong academic standards and will always turn such a program down for a school that lets them merely pretend to be in college. It just ain't so.

In fact, I think Notre Dame's commitment to both athletic AND academic excellence is one of the (few) great philosophical stances the school has taken. Notre Dame doesn't separate the meatheads from the nerds, because it believes brains and brawn don't always have to be separate; balance both within a student body and within a student's body are possible, even preferable.

There's a second, and perhaps even more important, lesson in the BC/ND tack as well: you don't have to sacrifice your principles to be successful. If there's anything religious institutions like Notre Dame and Boston College try to ingrain in their students, that is it.

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