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September 30, 2001
KEVIN WHITE: ‘SUCCESS IN FOOTBALL IS NOT NEGOTIABLE'
By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService
Kevin White didn't mince any words.
If anybody thought that because White gave Davie a five-year contract last December -- in effect, a three-year extension—that White would give Davie a pass after the first 0-3 start in Notre Dame history, they couldn't be farther from the truth.
White has a weekly radio show every Sunday night, aired in Chicago, and this Sunday he had every chance to give Davie a vote of confidence...and he didn't.
"Success in football is not negotiable," said White. "Very high-end success is not negotiable."
White said he spent the entire day Sunday on the Notre Dame campus and "it was awful. It should be awful. It was a terrible outing," said White of the 24-3 loss to the Aggies.
"To have now four of those in a row is just beyond comprehension."
White wasn't asked directly if he was thinking about a buy-out of Davie's contract, but he made it clear that he has a mandate from higher-ups at the university not to tolerate debacles on the field as have been occuring.
"Football has always been a sacred program, a pinnacle program," White said. "It's been a program that's competed for 11 national championships. It's one we take an awful lot of pride in. We've got to be good.
"At a place like ours at Notre Dame, it's about competing at the highest level and that's true for all our coaches. The edict from our trustees and from our president Father Malloy is pretty clear. It's to find a way to take our programs to the highest level. And football has always been such a sacred program.
"It's critical for us to be good."
The radio show was designed by White to be a showcase for everything that is good about Notre Dame athletics. Instead, he had to face -- and to his credit, he did face -- direct questions about the futility of the football program this season under Bob Davie.
"We're reeling," said White. "That's about the best descriptor I can give everybody. We're trying to pick the pieces up and pull the team back together."
White was all ebullience when he awarded the contract to Davie last December. The contract was for five years, eclipsing two years Davie had remaining. White indicated Sunday night the contract was a matter of being consistent with Notre Dame coaches of all teams—something that wasn't necessarily so beforehand.
"It's important for the university to be in control of the employment relationship," White said, "and a contract does do that. He said one of the reasons for offering Davie the new contract was because other schools in recruiting were using against him the fact that he wasn't offered an extension.
"Contracts are tools and contracts are essential with high profile coaches in the country," White said, "and really in the sports of football and basketball. At Notre Dame, we've taken about a year to put most of our head coaches on some kind of multiple year agreement, because coaches do get negatively recruited.
"It's important for the university to be in control of the employment relationship and a contract does do that." A
All in all, it sounded like White would be taking his cue from the trustees and from Father Malloy, which means he wouldn't hesitate in terminating Davie---notwithstanding the most recent contract.
White agreed with Notre Dame fans. "Offensively, we are in the back of the bus in the country." He said defensively, the Irish are "okay" but it "would be a stretch to say we're playing well." On special teams, he said, "I think we're kind of looking up at average."
It looks like Dr. White is not committed to anything, except having a football program that approaches excellence. That's good news for Irish fans, if not for Davie.