Rockne the Musical


I saw “ROCKNE” Nov 20th in the Decio. I’m writing this on Nov 22nd in class. Hours ago, news of a huge ND football scandal broke an hour ago. See below.

The show’s based on a biography, so I’m gonna give it the benefit of the doubt and call it true. Father Walsh repeatedly fought with Knute Rockne about the importance of football. Father Walsh fiercely defended Notre Dame as a place of superior higher education over a football school. Rockne later says, I know he’s failing, but I need this guy, you need this guy, you need the money he brings in, and you need that new library. (Club Hes? Not sure (Hesburgh Library)) An interesting set of interactions, considering this scandal… I hear that we’re known as one of the few schools that actually punish players who are academically dishonest and that tons of other schools don’t care. So why is the NCAA targeting us? Are they targeting us at all?

Now back to the musical: It was weird and fantastic and terrible. So incredibly interesting.

  • What was good?
    • Dramatic reading
      • I freakin’ love the concept of a dramatic reading including singing all the music. It was so freakin’ cool.
    • Northwestern
      • I could’ve gone there. Yeah, I got in. I didn’t choose them. I chose ND. No regrets. No second-guesses.
      • Hilarious to see Northwestern students sing our fight song. Hilarious that they care about us because of how little we care about any school outside of us. Felt like a “we win – you’re forced to act like you love us.” In truth, it’s likely that none of these people care about football or school pride at all.
      • It wasn’t just students – the leads were all real adults. Funky. Real.
    • New – Only in Munster, IN
      • So cool to see a musical that was never on Broadway. It showed for like a week in Munster, IN and then died. So cool to see an indie musical. I love the idea. The American Musical Theatre Project is an awesome group. They perform dramatic readings and full productions of indie musicals. Despite the fact that half of the musicals were written by their producer, it’s a cool idea. The other half is actually indie.
    • If you take out the lyrics, a couple of those songs were extremely catchy. The music was pretty good overall (save for the female lead’s boring, generic ballads).
    • The narrative constructed around George Gip and Rockne was excellently formed and moving. If these two characters and their narrative was removed from the musical and placed in a play, it would be an amazing production.
    • The guy who played Rockne was perfect. Perfect accent. Looked the part. Played it incredibly well. He was an amazing actor – so perfect to convey the image of “Knute Rockne.”
    • The full cast was incredibly talented. They were given a script and songs with lyrics. They took what they were given, and produced the highest quality work that could possibly be produced, given the script and lyrics not under their control. They were excellent at singing, excellent at acting, an incredibly unified chorus, they were just so talented.
  • What was bad?
    • The script
    • The lyrics

This is not an amazing show. It was horribly cringe-worthy to hear guys sing “completing the forward pass.” It was wrong to see boys who clearly have not touched a football, boys who would break into pieces if they got tackled once, sing about football.

Who is this show’s audience? This isn’t like any musical. If you like musicals, you probably like Hairspray. If you don’t like musicals, you don’t care about Hairspray. If you like musicals, but don’t follow sports, you won’t fully understand the theme and emotion of the show (This is probably a majority of theatre-goers). If you like sports and don’t like musicals, Rockne will probably outright offend. The musical theatre medium automatically diminishes the masculinity of sports culture. Men who love sports and see this show might think, “This is my identity being destroyed and redefined right in front of me.” I was watching through the lens of my brother and my father, who would definitely have hated this show. Whether or not the perception matches my family, any true ESPN fan knows these assumptions are valid.

So if the show alienates both of its target audiences, what’s the point of the show? Well, I’m sure the creator wanted to take it commercial, oblivious to its awkwardness. The show didn’t take off – clearly something’s wrong.

Despite any intentions, the musical becomes a commentary on just how far the reach of “Notre Dame culture” extends. The Notre Dame family is only partially made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Anyone who’s Irish, anyone who’s Catholic, and anyone who likes football all over the country can become a devoted Irish fan, and are immediately accepted into the ND family. Outside of football, Notre Dame themes have found their way into songs, TV shows, movies, children’s books, and even musicals put on by the Northwestern student body.

There’s no medium through which Notre Dame “can’t” dominate. Whether it should dominate is another matter, completely.


Notre Dame football team placed on academic probation; 2012, 2013 wins vacated

The Notre Dame football team has been placed on probation by the NCAA, and the team’s wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons will be vacated.

It all stems from an academic scandal involving an athletic trainer.

The NCAA found that she committed academic misconduct for two football players and gave six other players impermissible academic extra benefits.

You’ll remember the university self-reported the potential violations and kept five players off the field before the 2014 season.

In addition to a year’s probation, the university was reprimanded and censured.

Every win from the 2012 and 2013 seasons will be vacated. In 2012, Notre Dame won 12 games and lost to Alabama in the BCS National Championship game.

The trainer has been disassociated from the program.

Shortly after the NCAA announced Notre Dame’s probation, the university released a statement saying it would appeal the decision to vacate wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons..

“The NCAA has never before vacated the records of an institution that had no involvement in the underlying academic misconduct, and the membership has since voted to change the rule that brought this case within NCAA jurisdiction,” Notre Dame’s statement explains.

Brian Kelly met with the media Tuesday afternoon, and he voiced his frustration with the NCAA decision.

“It’s never happened before in the history of the NCAA. A penalty has never been issued in this fashion before,” Kelly said. “First of all, it was discretionary, this was a discretionary action by the committee. That’s number one. Number two, it was student-on-student cheating. There was nobody implicated. The NCAA agreed across the board with that finding, and it was clearly excessive. So as you know, we’re going to appeal this.”

NewsCenter 16’s Angelo Di Carlo asked Kelly if he thinks he’ll be the head coach of Notre Dame next season.

“I have no reason to believe that I’m not. I think you guys are confusing this statement with the win-loss record. A win-loss record is always under scrutiny at Notre Dame, and it should be,” Kelly answered. “That’s part of it. But this matter here has been a long-standing matter that the university has handled, handled in a positive way relative to how we handled it internally. Every support staff member has represented Notre Dame in a positive way. Today’s statement should be a validation that my collateral responsibilities at Notre Dame as the head coach are outstanding. However, ‘He’s gotta win more football games!’ And so that hasn’t changed; we’re still 4-7. So if you want me to answer the question on 4-7, I think every football coach who’s 4-7 has gotta win more football games.”

We’ll have much more on this story online and tonight beginning with NewsCenter 16 at 5.

Former Notre Dame student trainer acted unethically, committed academic misconduct
From an NCAA media release
(Click to read the full 21-page document from the NCAA)

A former University of Notre Dame student athletic trainer violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct for two football student-athletes and provided six other football student-athletes with impermissible academic extra benefits, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. One additional football student-athlete committed academic misconduct on his own.

The panel prescribed one year of probation, a two-year show-cause order and disassociation for the former student trainer, and a $5,000 fine for the university. During that time, if a member school hires the former student trainer in an athletically related position, she and the school must appear before a Committee on Infractions panel.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort during which the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing. The panel reviewing the case held an expedited penalty hearing because the university did not agree with one of the penalties.

During two academic years, the former student trainer and two football student-athletes engaged in academic misconduct when the former student trainer completed coursework for the student-athletes. These student-athletes, in addition to a third football student-athlete, also committed academic misconduct individually. The university determined the three student-athletes violated its academic integrity policies. The misconduct resulted in the student-athletes playing while ineligible — one student-athlete during the 2012-13 season and the other two student-athletes during the 2013-14 season.

The former student trainer also provided impermissible academic assistance to six additional football student-athletes in a total of 18 classes. She provided the assistance while she attended the university and a year after she graduated. Two of the student-athletes violated the university’s academic integrity policies. The remaining four student-athletes were not enrolled at the time the violations were discovered, so they were not subject to the university’s policies.

The panel found the former student trainer violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct and provided the impermissible academic extra benefits. She signed documents outlining that she should not complete academic work for student-athletes, but the panel noted she provided the assistance and did not ask the university’s compliance representatives if her actions would violate university and NCAA rules.

Penalties prescribed by the panel include the following:

— Public reprimand and censure for the university.

— One year of probation from Nov. 22, 2016, through Nov. 21, 2017.

— A two-year show-cause order for the former student trainer from Nov. 22, 2016, through Nov. 21, 2018. During that time, any NCAA member school that hires her in an athletically related position must appear with her before a Committee on Infractions panel.

— A disassociation of the former student trainer from the university’s athletics program from Nov. 22, 2016, through Nov. 21, 2018. During this period, the university may not accept assistance in the recruitment of prospects or support of student-athletes from the former student trainer; may not accept donations to the athletics program from the former student trainer; may not extend athletics benefits or privilege to the former student trainer that is not generally available to the public; and must ensure the former student trainer is not involved in the university’s athletics program.

— A vacation of all records in which student-athletes participated while ineligible during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 football seasons.

— A $5,000 fine.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Gregory Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Thomas Hill, senior policy advisor to the president of Iowa State University; Gregory Sankey, chief hearing officer for this panel, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner for the Southeastern Conference; Larry Parkinson, director of enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and Sankar Suryanarayan, university counsel, Princeton University.

Notre Dame will appeal NCAA decision
From the University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame will appeal the decision announced Tuesday (Nov. 22) by the NCAA Committee on Infractions to vacate 2012 and 2013 football victories, the University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, said. The NCAA has never before vacated the records of an institution that had no involvement in the underlying academic misconduct, and the membership has since voted to change the rule that brought this case within NCAA jurisdiction.

The penalty was based on misconduct by a former student who participated in the University’s student trainer program. She wrote papers for student-athletes, which was obviously unauthorized academic assistance. The University discovered the academic misconduct in 2014, and then addressed that misconduct through its honor code process. As a result, Notre Dame retroactively lowered grades of three student athletes who received improper assistance from the former student, giving them no academic credit that was not honestly earned.

“We very much appreciate the hard work of the NCAA enforcement staff and the members of the Committee on Infractions for their review of our case, but we believe the penalty they have imposed is not justified,” Father Jenkins said.

“We are disappointed in the actions of students who engaged in dishonesty, but we are gratified that the NCAA investigation confirmed the conclusions of our own internal investigation: Notre Dame acted honorably throughout. As soon as professional staff suspected academic dishonesty on the part of a student, the matter was reported promptly, investigated aggressively and thoroughly and adjudicated in accord with our Academic Code of Honor procedures and norms. In this case, everyone involved — those in Academic Services for Student-Athletes, in our football program and in our Compliance Office — and the faculty and students resolving these cases under our Honor Code did everything that we could have asked of them.

“We disagree with the decision of the hearing panel to impose, at its own discretion, a vacation of records penalty. In past academic misconduct cases, the Committee on Infractions has imposed this penalty only when it has found serious institutional misconduct, such as actions with the direct involvement or knowledge of a coach or academic personnel, a failure to monitor or a lack of institutional control. The NCAA enforcement staff and the hearing panel agreed with Notre Dame that no such institutional misconduct occurred in this case. Indeed, the only reason the NCAA reviewed the matter was because the misconduct involved a former fellow student who happened to participate in the University’s student trainer program—an activity which involved no responsibility for the academic work of student-athletes.

“We believe that imposition of the vacation of records penalty without serious underlying institutional misconduct will not primarily punish those responsible for the misconduct, but rather will punish coaches, student-athletes and indeed the entire institution who did nothing wrong and, with regard to this case, did everything right. We are also concerned that establishing this precedent will infringe on universities’ autonomy in deterring academic dishonesty, for it will discourage the retroactive lowering of grades even when an honor code committee deems this appropriate.

“As we said at the outset of this investigation, Notre Dame would willingly accept a vacation of records penalty if it were appropriate. It is not in this case. Indeed, should this precedent stand, it could create a perverse incentive that will discourage institutions from investigating so aggressively and imposing the penalties for academic dishonesty that their honesty committees might judge appropriate.”

University academic staff members became concerned about potential academic misconduct by one student-athlete and the former student in the summer of 2014. As a result, the University promptly launched a comprehensive investigation that included the review of 95,000 documents. The University immediately suspended the involved student-athletes from all athletic activities. At the conclusion of its honor code process, the University dismissed four student-athletes and imposed retroactive grade changes in the affected courses.

Notre Dame will submit its case to the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.


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