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Brian Boulac, Former Notre Dame Student-Athlete, Coach & Administrator, Passes Away

“From my perspective, being a Notre Dame employee is not a job. It is a vocation. To be a part of the Notre Dame family and tradition is a God-given opportunity that I have been blessed to share with so many tremendous athletes and co-workers over the years.” - Brian Boulac, 2009
“Considering his long and valuable efforts as a player, a coach and as an administrator, I don’t think it’s possible to find anyone on campus who has made more contributions to athletics at Notre Dame than Brian Boulac has made over the past five decades.” - Jack Swarbrick, 2009

Brian Boulac, former Notre Dame athletics administrator, coach and student-athlete passed away this week at the age of 79. 

Boulac retired in 2009 after 40 years with Notre Dame Athletics. He played tight end on the Notre Dame football team from 1959-62 and earned his bachelor’s (’63) and master’s (’65) degrees, returning to campus to coach football, later becoming the first softball coach in Notre Dame history and also serving within the athletic administration.

“In his many roles over the years, Brian taught us what it means to Be Irish,” said University Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick. “His commitment to excellence on the field as a student-athlete and coach, his dedication to trailblazing the varsity softball program and his legacy of service to the athletics community at large will long be remembered, and he will be greatly missed.”

From the time he enrolled as a freshman at Notre Dame in ’59 through the 2008 season, Boulac saw (or played in) every Notre Dame home football game for 50 consecutive seasons (282 games). He earned a Monogram as a sophomore player at Notre Dame in 1960. 

Following his graduation from the University in 1963, Boulac had a tryout with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals, but elected to stay on campus as a graduate assistant coach from 1963-67 under Hugh Devore and Ara Parseghian. Promoted to assistant freshman football coach in 1966-67, Boulac helped the 1966 varsity team win a national championship. 

Brought on staff as an offensive line coach in 1970 by Ara Parseghian, Boulac went on to also coach the defensive line, receivers and special teams under Parseghian, Dan Devine and Gerry Faust, serving at points as administrative assistant and assistant head coach. He spent seven years as recruiting coordinator, with Time recognizing his recruiting technique in an article entitled “Brian’s Pitch,” in its March 3, 1975 issue. 

Boulac was a member of the coaching staff for eight seasons that culminated in postseason bowl appearances, including six Irish victories (three Cotton, one Orange, one Sugar, one Gator). In addition, he was the offensive line coach on Notre Dame’s 1973 and 1977 national championship teams. In 1999, the All-American Football Foundation honored him for his years of service as an assistant coach.

After 13 years as a member of the Irish football coaching staff, at the invitation of athletic director Gene Corrigan, Boulac moved into the administrative ranks in 1983.

The longtime coach served as an administrator for men’s and women’s track and field and cross country, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, softball, hockey, volleyball, baseball and men’s and women’s fencing — with the fencing program earning national championship honors in 1986 (men), 1987 (women), 1994, 2003 and 2005 (the last three combined). 

Boulac was an eight-year member of the NCAA Division I Fencing Committee and served as chairman in 1996-97, also serving as a member of the United States Fencing Association college and high school advisory committee. He worked the fencing venue at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga.

In 1989, Boulac began his tenure (1989-92) as the first head coach of the Notre Dame softball team. In its inaugural four-year stint, he guided the Irish to four 30-win seasons, including Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament titles in 1990 and 1991, and the league’s regular-season title in 1992. In 1989, the first varsity season for the program, he was selected as MCC Coach of the Year. Following his time as coach, Boulac remained an integral piece of the program, serving as a mentor to alumnae and friends of the team. 

“We owe so much to Brian for not only bringing the softball program to the varsity level, but serving as a coach, mentor and friend to us in all the years beyond,” Notre Dame head softball coach Deanna Gumpf said. “Brian was one of the first people I met at Notre Dame, and I knew this place was special because of him. He laid the foundation for our softball family, and his spirit and dedication continue to shape our program to this day.” 

In his role in athletics administration, Boulac served as an athletic department liaison with the admissions and financial aid departments and also served as the general manager of the Joyce Center, responsible for the day-to-day operations of the building.

Boulac was a member of the Edward W. Moose Krause Chapter of the College Football Hall of Fame beginning in 1983 and became chair of the scholarship committee in 1985. The Chapter honored him for his contributions to football in 1991.

In 2006, Boulac received the James E. Armstrong Award for distinguished service to the University — and on the same weekend he was honored by many of his players and friends when a plaque with his name was placed on a football locker in the new Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

Born May 8, 1941, in Walla Walla, Washington, Boulac earned 10 letters in high school while playing football, baseball, basketball and track — his freshman and sophomore years at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane, Washington, and junior and senior years at Olympia High School in Olympia, Washington, garnering all-state honors in football and basketball and captaining both those squads.

Boulac is survived by his wife Micki (a 1983 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School) and four daughters, all of whom are Notre Dame graduates: Dawn, Denise, Debbie and Dyan.