(l-r : Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, head football coach Brian Kelly)
While the September 2010 suicide of St. Mary’s College freshman Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeburg and Notre Dame’s apparent disinterest in identifying and punishing her alleged rapist has been mentioned a couple of previous times in this space (“Tribune : Irish Aren’t Breaking A Sweat Over Accused Rapist”, 11/20/10, “ND: We’re Not A Finishing School For Rapists”, 2/10/11), all of that came before the Fighting Irish’s spectacular return prominence and preparations to challenge for a national championship next month. And with that BCS Championship game against Alabama looming on the horizon, Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger (a Notre Dame alum) claims Brian Kelly’s squad includes multiple players sexual predators (“what’s really surprising me are those who believe as I do that two players on the team have committed serious criminal acts – sexual assault in one case, and rape in another — but assumed that I’d support the team anyway, just as they are”), and as such, she’s unlikely toattend the January 7 contest at Sun Life Stadium.
The alums who mystify me are those who know the real story, believe it, and are giddy still over a winning season that’s at least in part the result of wrong behavior. I did myself a favor recently and unsubscribed from the alumni e-mails touting the school’s good works and asking, “What would you fight for?” (Football?)
My husband says he continues to be amazed by the depths of my disillusionment; had I really thought they were so much better than this? You bet I did; in fact, Notre Dame isn’t Notre Dame if it isn’t, which might explain why school officials maintain to this day that they’ve done nothing wrong, have never besmirched Miss Seeberg’s memory, and have no idea how so many fans think they know so much about her. (Here’s how: A longtime ND donor I interviewed said a top university official told him straight up that Lizzy had been sexually aggressive with the player rather than the other way around: “She was all over the boy.”)
In South Bend, naturally, knowing is particularly burdensome: “I’ve watched almost every game this season and there’s not a single time that I don’t feel extreme anger when I see [the accused] on the field,” said Kaliegh Fields, a Saint Mary’s junior who went with Lizzy to the police station. “Once I start thinking about the people who put the school’s success in a sport over the life of a young woman, I can’t help but feel disgust. Everyone’s always saying how God’s on Notre Dame’s side,” she added. “And I think, ‘How could he be?’ “