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Swarbrick joins distinguished lineage of Notre Dame Athletic Directors -- Harper, Rockne, Layden, Leahy, Krause ...
By Steven C. WelshSept. 3, 2008

Notre Dame's new Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick is a Notre Dame alumnus who lived in the small but proud Howard Hall back when it was a men's dorm (although he admittedly nearly called into question his loyalties by leaving to study law at the Notre Dame of the west, Stanford)

Swarbrick joins a line of Notre Dame atheletic directors that includes some of the most famous names in American sports. For much of the past nearly 100 years that Notre Dame has had an AD, the post has been held by a current or former Notre Dame Head Football Coach including:

-- the winningest coach in football history

-- the second-winningest coach in football history

-- the second-winningest coach in Notre Dame football history (yet another coach, based solely on records while at Notre Dame); this coach/AD introduced the forward pass to all of football as an offensive weapon and put Notre Dame Football on the map

-- a coach/AD and former Four Horseman who, a year after leaving his position with Notre Dame, became Commisioner of the National Football League

-- an AD who, after leaving his post at Notre Dame, became Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

-- a former Canadian Ambassador to Ireland


Jesse Harper served as athletics director from 1913-17, during which time he also was the second winningest coach in Notre Dame football history. (Frank Leahy was the second winningest in college football history, but served part of his illustrious tenure at Boston College. Harper's winning percentage at Notre Dame was .863, and Leahy's -- at Notre Dame -- was .855; prior to that, Leahy had a near-perfect record during a brief stint at Boston College.) As a football coach, Harper introduced the forward pass as a true offensive weapon for the first time, with quarterback Gus Dorais and end/receiver Knute Rockne.


Knute Rockne, the winningest coach in football (.881 winning percentage), was also Director of Athletics from 1920 until his untimely death in 1930 in a plane crash over Bazaar, Kansas. Rockne led Notre Dame football to three consensus national championships.

Rockne's authority as AD did not prevent the Holy Cross Priests running Notre Dame from banning any further bowl games after Notre Dame's trip to the Rose Bowl in 1925, so as not to disrupt classes or the academic calendar. (Notre Dame would not return to bowls until a #1 versus #2 match-up in the 1970 Cotton Bowl, which would change the course of bowls and college football seemingly irrevocably.)


Jesse Harper would return to the AD position for several years after Knute Rockne's untimely death, serving from 1931-32.


Elmer Layden was one of the famed Four Horseman that played for Rockne and, with the Seven Mules, won Notre Dame's first consensus national championship in football (1924) with a victory in the 1925 Rose Bowl. Layden became Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from 1934-40. After leaving his dual post, within a year Layden became Commissioner of the National Football League.


Hugh Devore twice came to Notre Dame's aid, as interim football coach, and served as both head coach and athletic director in 1945. Devore stepped in as caretaker as World War II was winding down, until Frank Leahy could return from the war. (In 1963, during Moose Krause's tenure as AD, Devore, by then a veteran NFL coach, would once again came to Notre Dame's help as interim football coach. Coming to bridge the gap between Joe Kuharich and Ara Parseghian as football coach, Devore set out to restore the fundamentals for the football program and laid some of the foundations for Parseghian's success.)


Frank Leahy served as Athletic Director from 1947-48, a portion of his much lengthier tenure as Head Football Coach (1941-1953, with two years' absence when Leahy served in the Navy during World War II.) Leahy was the second-winningest coach in football history after only Rockne, and the third-winningest as Notre Dame Head Coach (after Rockne and Harper, i.e., for his record while at Notre Dame). Leahy also led Notre Dame Football to four consensus national championships.


Edward "Moose" Krause served as Athletic Director from 1949 to 1981. An All-American lineman under Rockne, Krause represented a direct Rockne link for Notre Dame athletics up to the early 1980's. Krause had been a four-sport athlete (football, basketball, track, and tennis), was an Assistant Coach under Leahy, served as an interim Head Coach for two games when Leahy was ill, and coached the Notre Dame basketball team for a half-dozen years. As AD, among other projects, Krause presided during the construction of the Joyce Athletic and Convocation Center. During Krause's tenure as AD Notre Dame won four consensus national titles in football under three head coaches -- Leahy, Parseghian, Devine -- and Notre Dame went to the Final Four in NCAA men's basketball (under Digger Phelps). (Click here for New York Times obituary that provided some of this information.)


Gene Corrigan served from 1981-87, has been credited with the hiring of Lou Holtz, and left to become Commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).


Dick Rosenthal served from 1987-95, during which time Notre Dame won its most recent consensus national title in football (along with two other non-consensus national titles). During Rosenthal's tenure Notre Dame entered into the television contract with NBC to broadcast all Notre Dame home games nationally and at stable scheduled times.


Kevin White presided over an expansion of Notre Dame athletic facilities and held a tenure that saw Notre Dame become the leading athletic program in the Big East conference, win national titles in Olympic sports, go to the national title game in hockey, and have its athletes continue to meet high academic standards.

2008 - present

As a Notre Dame women's fencer becomes the first American to bring home a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, Jack Swarbrick, ND '76, begins his tenure as Notre Dame Athletic Director, amid continued growth and expansion of facilities, high demands for continued academic excellence, and high expectations for football, basketball, hockey, and Olympic sports.

By Steven C. Welsh Sept. 3, 2008

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