Aug. 21, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame’s 2008 season-opening football game Sept. 6 against San Diego State kicks off a year-long program entitled “Celebrating Over 60 Years of Success by Black Student-Athletes at Notre Dame” that will recognize the historical contributions of African-American student-athletes at the University.
Presenting the flag prior to the Notre Dame-San Diego State contest will be Wayne Edmonds, a 1956 Notre Dame graduate and the first black football player to win a monogram while competing for the Irish — along with Paul Thompson, son of Frazier Thompson, a 1947 Notre Dame graduate and former Irish track standout who was the first black graduate of the University and the first black monogram-winner in any sport at Notre Dame.
Edmonds played defensive end, tackle and guard for the Irish in 1953 (helping Notre Dame to a 9-0-1 mark and number-two final national ranking), 1954 and 1955 – starting at left tackle as a senior in ’55 and winning monograms each of those three seasons. Listed at 6-0 and 210 pounds and originally from Canonsburg, Pa., he was selected in the ninth round of the 1956 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers but instead went to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh and later became the dean of students at the School of Social Work at Pittsburgh.
Edmonds now lives in Harrisburg, Pa. He majored in sociology and graduated from the College of Arts and Letters. He will be returning to campus along with his wife, Dorothy.
Originally from Philadelphia, Frazier Thompson earned monograms in track and field in 1945 and 1946, running the sprints and establishing himself as one of the all-time great sprinters in Irish track history. A Navy V-12 trainee while stationed at Notre Dame, Thompson was a pre-med student in the College of Science. He died in 1991 and will be represented by his son, Paul, who lives in the Philadelphia area.
In 1997 the Black Alumni of Notre Dame established a fund to provide annual Frazier Thompson Scholarship awards. Each year, selected students receive a $2,500 scholarship award toward senior-year expenses based on their excellence in academics and their service to the African-American and Notre Dame communities. Since 1998, the Black Alumni of Notre Dame has provided $80,000 of financial relief to 31 students, primarily through the contributions of African-American Notre Dame alumni.
The return of Edmonds and Thompson for the home football opener will be the first of a series of events that will take place in 2008-09, culminating in a weekend celebration that coincides with the April 18, 2009, Blue-Gold spring football game at Notre Dame. The more than 400 African-American Notre Dame monogram-winners all will be invited back for the events that weekend.
A commemorative logo has been created to recognize the celebration, a commemorative video is in production, signage will be visible around Notre Dame athletics facilities – and there will be various interviews and feature stories throughout the year in Notre Dame athletics publications and on www.und.com.
— ND —