Friday, June 24, 2011

1. University of Notre Dame hockey coach Jeff Jackson today announced the 2011-12 Notre Dame hockey schedule. The 38-game schedule opens Oct. 2 with a preseason contest versus the Western Ontario at the Joyce Center Ice Rink. The regular season starts on Oct. 7 in Duluth, Minn., versus defending NCAA champion Minnesota-Duluth. The Irish will face the Bulldogs in a weekend seriesthat serves as a rematch of the NCAA semifinals last April in St. Paul, Minn. The teams will meet Oct. 7-8 at the new Amsoil Arena for a pair of 7:07 p.m. (CT) starts. The Irish will then return home for the final games to be played at the Joyce Center when they face Ohio State in the CCHA opener forboth teams on Oct. 14-15. The following week, Notre Dame has just onegame on the schedule as the Rensselaer Engineers are scheduled to play the Irish Oct. 21 at 7:30. The site of that game will be determined at a later date. The month of November will open the Compton Family Ice Arena era for Notre Dame hockey with four games scheduled for the new, 5,000-seat, state-of-the-art arena. The Alaska Nanooks visit for a series Nov. 11-12. That weekend will be followed by a visit from Western Michigan for one gameNov. 15. The dedication of the Compton Family Ice Arena will occur Nov. 18. The Irish play host to Boston College that night. The schedule features three games versus teams from the WCHA (two at Minnesota-Duluth and one at Minnesota), four games against teams from Hockey East (one home game with Boston College and Boston University and two with Northeastern) and one game versus the ECAC (Rensselaer). Two exhibition games are included in the schedule with a season-opening game against Western Ontario and a Jan. 3 contest versus the Russian Red Stars, a team of elite players from Russia, Latvia and Belarus that plays in the Russian Junior Hockey League. Notre Dame’s Jan. 7 visit to Minnesota to face the Gophers will be for the College Hockey Hall of Fame Game. The Irish last played in the Hall of Fame Game on Oct. 11, 2008 at the University of Denver. The 2011-12 schedule features a 21-game home docket (including the two exhibition games) – the most home games the Irish have ever had scheduled. The 19-game home regular season schedule (not including postseason playoff) games is surpassed only by the 1987-88 schedule that had 20 regular season games. With 11 CCHA teams, the Irish will play Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State and Western Michigan four times each (two home and two away) with two games apiece versus the remaining six teams. The Irish will play host to Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State while traveling to Lake Superior State, Miami and Northern Michigan. The public sale of season tickets for the 2011-12 season with begin July 7 at 8:30 a.m. by calling 574-631-7356 or logging onto und.com/tickets. The Murnane Ticket Office will open at 9:00 a.m. Prices start at $252 for adults and $126 for youth/seniors and feature a 10% discount versus purchasing tickets on an individual basis. The Compton Family Ice Arena features a variety of new seating options that can be viewed on the Notre Dame website at www.und.com/tickets/nd-tickets-hockey.

2. Publication awards won for 2010-11 by the Notre Dame media relationsdepartment in competitions run by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) included first place nationally for the Irish hockey mediaguide (including best cover), second place for the women’s soccer media guide, best cover for the men’s soccer media guide and second place for the men’s swimming media guide.

3. Former Irish football lineman Dan Santucci has joined the University staff as football game day coordinator. He’s a 2006 graduate who earned four monograms for the Irish and played four years in the NFL.

4. Notre Dame finished fifth in the final women’s standings of the Capital One Cup competition. The top five programs in the women’s competition were Stanford (121 points), Texas A&M (112), California (106), Florida (86) and Notre Dame (76). The Irish points came from the national title in women’s soccer and the NCAA runner-up finish in women’s basketball.

5. Former Notre Dame and NFL player Rocky Boiman joins Nick Ferguson to serve as studio analysts for a 2011 NFL regular-season Sunday on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. The announcement was made this week at the conclusion of the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp in Mt. Laurel, NJ, where Boiman and Ferguson spent four days learning the business from talent, producers and executives from each of the NFL’s broadcast partners.This marks the first time in the five years of the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp that players were given the opportunity to earn a broadcast position as a result of their performances. The dates of the Sky Sports assignments for Boiman and Ferguson will be determined closer to the kickoff of the 2011 NFL season. Boiman was a linebacker and special teams standout who played 103 games in eight NFL seasons with Tennessee (2002-05), Indianapolis (2006-07), Kansas City (2008) and Pittsburgh (2009). Boiman won a Super Bowl ring with the 2006 Colts. Sky Sports is the premier NFL broadcaster in the U.K. and airs 1:00 PM ET and 4:15 PM ET games live every Sunday as well as all Thursday and Saturday night games and all postseason games including the Super Bowl. Based in London, Sky Sports has been televising NFL games for more than two decades. Of the 90 players who took part in the Broadcast Boot Camp from 2007-2010, 36 have already earned broadcasting jobs as a result of their participation in the program.

6. Notre Dame junior All-America women’s soccer forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) has been selected as one of five nominees for the 2011 ESPY Award in the category of “Best Female College Athlete,” it was announced today. Henderson is the fourth Fighting Irish women’s soccer player in the past seven years to earn an ESPY nomination, following in the footsteps of 2004 Soccer America National Player of the Year Katie Thorlakson (up for a 2005 ESPY), and two-time Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy recipient Kerri Hanks, who was nominated the summer after she earned national player-of-the-year accolades in 2006 and 2008. Henderson arguably was the nation’s most electric offensive threat in 2010,scoring 17 goals and dishing out a career-high 11 assists en route to a career-high 45 points while leading Notre Dame to its third NCAA national championship. The Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the NCAA Women’s College Cup, she was one of only three players in the country (along with Nebraska’s Morgan Marlborough and Dayton’s Colleen Williams) to rank among the top 20 in goals (sixth), assists (tied-20th) and points (fourth) — while being one of just two players (along with Williams) to also compete in the 2010 NCAA Championship and the only one to take her team beyond the first two rounds of the tournament — and she was one of 10 players nationwide to post double-digit totals in both goals and assists. The others competing against Henderson for this year’s ESPY Award for “Best Female College Athlete” are Penn State volleyball player Blair Brown, Arizona State softball player Dallas Escobedo, USC swimmer Katinka Hosszu and Connecticut women’s basketball player Maya Moore. Of those five nominees, three led their teams to national championships — Henderson, Brown and Escobedo. The ESPYs will take place at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) on July 13 from the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles, with the ceremony broadcast live on ESPNHD and hosted by comedian Seth Meyers, best known for his work on “Saturday Night Live”. Fans will have the opportunity to select the winners in all of this year’s ESPY categories by voting online at espn.com/espys, by mobile device also at espn.com/espys, or on the ESPN Facebook page (facebook.com/espn), with fans visiting the Facebook page encouraged to both vote and choose the “Like” option. In addition, fans can follow the official ESPYs Twitter page (@ESPYs) and tweet about their favorite nominees, as well as the show itself leading up to andduring the live ceremony. Those fans who elect to vote via Twitter should use the tag @ESPYs in their tweets in order to ensure their vote is counted. Once the live show starts on July 13, fans should change their tags to #ESPYs tofollow the results and continue conversations with fans around the world.

7. Chris Whitten, a former member of the University of Notre Dame men’s golf team, has been named the head men’s golf coach at the University of Michigan, it was announced by Michigan Director of Athletics Dave Brandon on Thursday. The Rockford, Mich., native graduated from Notre Dame in 2002 with a degree in English. During his time with the Irish program, Whitten was named a Cleveland Golf/GCAA All-America Scholar, earned Notre Dame’s Varsity Monogram Award, as well as the Knute Rockne Scholar Athlete Award in 2002, while helping Notre Dame to tworunner-up finishes at the BIG EAST Championship in ’99 and ’02. The 2002 Monogram winner accumulated 23 rounds for the Irish with a 77.43 stroke average during his Irish career. For thepast five years, Whitten has served as an assistant coach for the Wolverines, being named a finalist for the Jan Strickland Award each of the past two seasons, given to the top assistant coach in all NCAA Divisions. During Whitten’s tenure, Michigan has posted eight tournament wins and five Wolverines have won eight medalist honors. Before joining Michigan’s staff in May 2006, Whitten worked as an assistant golf professional at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where he focused on membership instructional programs, clinics, and group lessons. He also assisted with tournament operations for over 90 summer golf events. Whitten got his start in coaching with the Irish, serving as the first-ever assistant men’s golf coach at Notre Dame for two seasons from 2003-05, helping the Irish capture the 2004 BIG EAST Championship. He also oversaw recruiting duties along with other general assistant duties, including serving as the assistant tournament director for the 2003 and 2004 BIG EASTMen’s Golf Championships. Whitten also was fundamental in establishing the formation of the Irish Golf School in 2004.

8. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), a junior epeeist on the University of Notre Dame fencing team, earned a sixth-place finish at the Nankin Epee Grand Prix in China. The result is Hurley’s top international finish since winning bronze at the 2010 Pan American Championships and her best-ever finish at a grand prix event. The five-time Senior World Team member entered the table of 64 as the No. 18 seed after going undefeated in pool play and was one of four U.S. athletes to advance to the table of 64. After securing wins over Young-Mi Kang of Korea (15-12) and 2010 Senior World medalist Nathalie Moelhausen of Italy (15-12), Hurley squared off with the top-ranked fencer in the world, Magdalena Piekarska of Poland, upsetting her by a score of 15-8. Hurley’s tournament came to an end in the quarterfinals as she fell to Bianca Del Carretto of Italy, the eighth-ranked epeeist in the world. Hurley did, however, earn valuable Olympic qualifying points as a result of her finish and is now ranked as the top athlete from the Pan American region in the individual Olympic qualifying rankings. The result at the grand prix further builds on a successful season for Hurley to-date that has seen her claim the USA Fencing Division I National Championship in April after defeating her sister and former Irish fencer Kelley Hurley in the championship bout, 15-14. In March, Hurley also went on to claim gold at the NCAA Championships after knocking off Noam Mills of Harvard in the title bout, 8-7.

9. Five Notre Dame student-athletes received Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors during the 2010-11 academic year, helping the Irish stay among the leaders in the nation in honorees. The selection process for Academic All-Americans is conducted annually by the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of American (CoSIDA). Teams are named in baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, softball, men’s track/cross country, women’s track/cross country and women’s volleyball, with men’s and women’s at-largeteams being named for other sports. Notre Dame currently stands second all-time with 221 Academic All-Americans, trailing only Nebraska’s 291, but well ahead of third-place Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 176 honorees. Since 2000, Notre Dame’s 95 selections is second only to Nebraska’s 104 selections. Inaddition, Notre Dame ranks in the top-10 in several sports for number of honorees. The Irish have had more Academic All-Americans than any other school in baseball and women’s soccer, while also cracking the top-10 in men’s at-large (third), men’s basketball (tied for seventh), football (third), softball (tied for sixth), and men’s track/cross country (tied for ninth). Notre Dame had five honorees in 2010-11: Tim Abromaitis (men’s basketball), David Ruffer (football), Tyler Davis (men’s tennis), Lauren Fowlkes (women’s soccer), Frederick Bentley (men’s fencing). This marked the second consecutive year Abromaitis earned Academic All-American recognition. To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have received sophomore athletic and academic standing at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.

10. Three Notre Dame student-athletes, basketball player Tim Abromaitis (Unionville, Conn.), men’s soccer player Jeb Brovsky (Lakewood, Colo.) and women’s soccer standout Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) were among 24 BIG EAST student-athletes selected as the recipients of the 2010-11 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards. Abromaitis’ selection marks the second consecutive year in which he has earned the honor as Notre Dame finished with the second-most honorees, behind Louisville’s fiverecipients. First-time recipients, Brovsky and Fowlkes, both were named recipients of Notre Dame’s highest honor — the Byron V. Kanaley Award. The Scholar-Athlete Sport ExcellenceAwards are given to one student-athlete in each BIG EAST sport based on academic credentials, athletic accolades or performances and volunteer service to the community. Student-athletes who have attained junior academic standing and a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.00 are eligible. The winners are chosen by the BIG EAST Faculty Athletics Representative Council.

11. The reigning NCAA national champion Notre Dame women’s soccer team will have a significant presence at the 2011 FIFA Women’s WorldCup, which kicks off this weekend and continues through July 17 in nine cities around Germany. Five former Fighting Irish players — four of whom earned All-America honors during their four-year careers under the Golden Dome — will have a role in the quadrennial international tournament, with three competing in the event itself, and two others making their debuts as part of ESPN’s extensive coverage of the tournament. Ironically, the one Notre Dame women’s soccer alum who wasn’t an All-American with the Fighting Irish has become a mainstay for the United States Women’s National Team, as midfielder Shannon Boxx (`99) dons the Stars & Stripes in World Cup action for thethird time, having helped Team USA to third-place finishes in 2003 and 2007. The Torrance, Calif., native — who helped Notre Dame to three NCAA College Cup appearances from 1995-97, including the ’95 national championship and a runner-up finish in ’96 — was named to the prestigious FIFA All-World Cup Team in 2003 and scored a goal in the Americans’ 3-0 win over England in the 2007 quarterfinals. Boxx also earned a pair of Olympic gold medals with the United States side in the 2004 Athens Games and the 2008 Beijing Games. Boxx and the United States will begin play at the 16-team tournament at 12:15 p.m. (ET) Sunday with a Group C match against North Korea in Dresden, Germany. The Americans also will play Colombia (July 2, noon ET in Sinsheim) and Sweden (July 6, 2:45 p.m. ET in Wolfsburg) to complete the group stage. All three of Team USA’s matches in group play will be televised live on ESPNHD, ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV. Should the United States reach the quarterfinals, its match would be played on July 10 (either 7 a.m. ET in Augsburg or 11:30 a.m. ET in Dresden). The semifinals will take place July 13 (noon ET in Moenchengladbach or 2:45 p.m. ET in Frankfurt), with the World Cup final slated for 2:45 p.m. (ET) on July 17 in Frankfurt. All knockout round matches (quarterfinals andbeyond) will be televised on ESPNHD, ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV. Two otherformer Notre Dame players who were All-Americans and key contributors on the 2004 Fighting Irish national championship squad will be playing in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, as defender Candace Chapman (’05) and forward Melissa Tancredi (’04) both make their second World Cup appearance for their native Canada. In 2007, Chapman and Tancredi(along with 2004 Soccer America National Player of the Year and 2006 Notre Dame graduate Katie Thorlakson) nearly led the Maple Leafs to the quarterfinals, but a stoppage-time goal by Australia in the final group-stage match gave the Matildas a 2-2 draw and knocked Canada out of the tournament. Chapman scored Canada’s first goal of the tournament (in a 2-1 loss to Norway), while Tancredi found the back of the net 37 seconds into the Australia contest, making it (at the time) the second-fastest goal in Women’s World Cup history. Team Canada opens its World Cup schedule at noon (ET) Saturday when it takes on the host Germans at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Canada also will face France (June 30, noon ET in Bochum) and Nigeria (July 5, 2:45 p.m. ET in Dresden) during Group A action. The first two Canadian matches will be televised live on ESPNHD, while the contest with Nigeria can be seen on ESPN2HD, with all three matches also available on ESPN3.com and ESPN Mobile TV. The Canadians’ quarterfinal match would take place on July 9 at either noon ET (in Leverkusen) or 2:45 p.m. ET (in Wolfsburg). Speaking of the ESPN family of networks, two former Fighting Irish All-Americans will take theirtalents in front of the camera as they begin their World Cup broadcasting careers this weekend. Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf (’98) — a member of the 1999 USA Women’s World Cup championship team and a three-time All-America defender at Notre Dame and one of the mainstays on those three College Cup squads from 1995-97, as well as the ’95 title-winning team — will serve as a color analyst alongside veteran soccer play-by-play broadcaster Adrian Healy, while Monica Gonzalez (’01) — who was a founding member of the Mexican National Team and helped it reach the 2004 Olympic quarterfinals, in addition to leading Notre Dame to three College Cup berths in 1997, 1999 and 2000 (including the ’00 title match) — will contribute analysis as a studio commentator for both ESPN and ESPN Deportes.

12. The National Hockey League will hold its annual Entry Draft this weekend at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and five players with ties to the Notre Dame hockey program, including three who will play for the Irish in the 2011-12 season, could hear their names called. Among the group are current sophomore T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.) and incoming freshmen Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.) and Austin Wuthrich (Anchorage, Alaska). Steven Fogarty (Edina, Minn.) and Andy Ryan (Brighton, Mich.) who also have signed national letter-of-intents to attend Notre Dame are eligible for the draft. Both players will play this coming season in the United States Hockey League (USHL) – Fogarty for the Chicago Steel and Ryan for the Green Bay Gamblers. All fiveplayers could be drafted on Saturday during rounds two through seven. Russo,Wuthrich and Fogarty were all ranked in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings with Russo leading the way as he was ranked 55th among North American skaters. Wuthrich followed as he was ranked 81st and Fogarty was 90th overall. Ryan was ranked 188th in Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings but not on the final list. Tynan, who is in his second year of being eligible for the draft, was not ranked in this year’s rankings. Players born between Jan. 1, 1991 and Sept. 15, 1993 are eligible for selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Additionally, undrafted, non-North American players over the age of 20 are eligible for the draft and those players who were drafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but not signed by an NHL team and who were born after June 24, 1991, are also eligible to re-enter the draft. Since 1969, teams in the National Hockey League havedrafted 65 Notre Dame players, including four first round selections – defenseman Ian Cole in 2007 (18th overall by St. Louis), center Riley Sheahan in 2010 (21st overall by Detroit), defenseman Jarred Tinordi in 2010 (22nd by Montreal) and right wing Kyle Palmieri in 2009 (26th overall by Anaheim). Tinordi never played at Notre Dame. The Irish currently have eight players on their roster who have heard their names called at the NHL Entry Draft – junior Nick Larson (Calgary, fourth round in 2008), senior Sean Lorenz (Minnesota,fourth round in 2008), sophomore Jeff Costello (Ottawa, fifth round in 2009), sophomore Anders Lee (New York Islanders, sixth round in 2009), sophomore Riley Sheahan (Detroit, first round in 2010), sophomore Stephen Johns (Chicago, second round in 2010), sophomore Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh, third round in 2010) and Kevin Lind (Anaheim, sixth round in 2010).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1. Peyton Vitter of New Orleans posted one of only two sub-par rounds Friday in the 39th Southern Junior golf event at windblown Dallas Athletic Club in Dallas, Texas. But it was good enough for the Notre Dame-bound golfer to erase a 6-stroke deficit and overtake all of the 36-hole leaders and win by a stroke. Vitter had started the day tied for 19th, six shots off the lead in the featured 15-18 age group. His final 71-219 total was one ahead of William Sellers of Montgomery, Ala., and Jay Burlison of Salinas, Calif., who had led or shared the lead through the first two rounds. Vitter finished an hour ahead of the final threesome and said he was “shocked” to learn he was in contention to win. “I thought I had a shot for top five, maybe,” Vitter said as he left the 18th green. But the leaders struggled through their final few holes, leaving the top prize to Vitter. By winning, he earns an automatic berth in the prestigious 105th Southern Amateur next month at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa.

2. With the NBA Draft on tap Thursday, the SI.com site lists former Irish star Ben Hansbrough #8 on its list of the top 10 shooting guard draft prospects.

3. Irish men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has announced that Garrick Sherman (Kenton, Ohio), a 6-10, 240-pound center, has transferred to the University of Notre Dame and will be eligible to play for the Irish starting with the 2012-13 campaign. Sherman, who is currently enrolled in summer school classes at the University, played the 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns at Michigan State University. He becomes the first player to transfer to Notre Dame since the June of 2008 when Brey welcomed 2011 BIG EAST Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough from Mississippi State and current Irish senior forward Scott Martin from Purdue. Overall, during his 11-year tenure, Brey has mentored three other transfers in addition to Hansbrough and Martin — Ryan Humphrey (2000-02) from Oklahoma; Danny Miller (2002-03) from Maryland; and Dennis Latimore (2004-05) from Arizona. In ’10-’11, Sherman appeared in 34 contests and made 17 starts for the Spartans while averaging 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds. He shot a team-best .696 from the field (48-69) that including a stretch in which he hit 10 straight field goal attempts. Sherman also shot at a .789 clip (15-19) in Big Ten play. He led Michigan State in rebounding in two contests while starting the first 11 games of the season and averaging 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in those games. As freshman member of a Michigan State squad that advanced to the ’10 Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis, Ind., he appeared in 36 contests and made 12 starts, including 11 of the first 14 games. During the season, he shot .596 from the field overall and .625 in conference play. He scored a season-high eight points against IPFW. A prep standout at Kenton High School, he averaged 23.6 points, 15.6 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in his senior season while leading his team to the Division II district finals with a 17-6 mark.Named the Associated Press Division II Co-Player of the Year, he concluded his career as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history as well as the second-leading rebounder in the state of Ohio. In ’09, he was named a Division II All-State first-team honoree as selected by the AP and was the Player of the Year in the Western Buckeye League and the District 8 Player of the Year, the second consecutive year that he earned both of those honors.

4. There will be big shoes to fill in the Notre Dame Stadium press box at Irish football games after the death last Wednesday of John Lentz at age 66. A longtime auditor for St. Joseph County, Lentz for decades has served as the “official scorer” at Notre Dame football games, making all the final calls on yardage and ball marks. The 2011 campaign would have been his 40th season in that role.

5. Tuesday turned out to be a busy day for Irish football coach Brian Kelly who spoke at an IMG sales luncheon in Chicago for clients of Notre Dame’s football radio network partner and then headed to Butterfield Country Club where he spoke to more than 200 at a dinner following the 25th annual Notre Dame Club of Chicago golf outing.

Here are some of Kelly’s offerings from the dinner program:

— “I really didn’t know Notre Dame because I was busy building other programs. But I heard all about what we couldn’t do. What I found out after being here is that that those aren’t hurdles, those are distinctions. We don’t apologize for those. It’s not about saying Notre Dame is better – it’s about shopping down a different aisle. Now I know Notre Dame – you don’t have to explain it to me.”

— “I know we’ve got to win football games. I get that. And the Notre Dame spirit, the faith-based education, the residentiality – those are things that will help carry us. We can do it in the classroom and do it the right way and win football games.”

— “We don’t play any outmanned opponents. We don’t get a preseason. We open with a USF team that beat Clemson in a bowl game, so we’ve got to be ready right out of the gate.”

— “What do we need to do? Everybody has some great players. We need to get our average players to play better than their average players.”

— “We need consistency more than anything else. Our players need to hear a consistent message from me.”

— “The quarterback spot? I really don’t know. I’m taking all suggestions. I can make a case passionately for any of the four. We can’t go into the season not knowing what we’re doing. We can’t do musical chairs.”

Kelly sat at a table with former Irish Heisman Trophy winner John Lattner and former Irish head coach Terry Brennan. The former Irish playersattending included Kurt Zackrison, Tom Gorman, Mike Heaton, Robert Hughes, Joe Farrell and Marty Finan (he signed a letter of intent with the Irish in ’78 but never played for Notre Dame due to medical issues).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1. The 2011 professional baseball season is just over two months old. Here is a recap of what formerNotre Dame players playing in the professional ranks have done to this point of the season:

— Notre Dame currently has five players, Craig Counsell (1989-92), Milwaukee Brewers; John Axford (2002-03), Milwaukee Brewers; Aaron Heilman (1998-01), Arizona Diamondbacks; Brad Lidge (1997-98), Philadelphia Phillies; and Jeff Samardzija (2004-06), Chicago Cubs; playing in Major League Baseball.

— Notre Dame has another four players, Matt Macri (2002-04), Colorado Springs Sky Sox; Jeff Manship (2005-06), Rochester Red Wings; David Phelps (2006-08), Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees; and Kyle Weiland (2006-08), Pawtucket Red Sox; on the brink of the big leagues in Triple-A.

Including Manship, six former Irish players have seen action in an MLB game in 2011. The other 11 members of the BIG EAST Conference combined can only claim a total of seven such players. The most recent crop of Irish players to join the professional ranks includes Brian Dupra (2008-11, 7th round pick of Washington Nationals), Cole Johnson (2008-11, 44th round pick of Minnesota Twins) and Matt Scioscia (2008-11, 45th round pick of Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim). All three have signed and reported to camp.

John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers
Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
Aaron Heilman, Arizona Diamondbacks
Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

Matt Macri, Colorado Springs Sky Sox
Jeff Manship, Rochester Red Wings
David Phelps, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees
Kyle Weiland, Pawtucket Red Sox

A.J. Pollock, Mobile BayBears

Jeremy Barnes, Clearwater Threshers
Wade Korpi, Jupiter Hammerheads
Steven Mazur, Aberdeen IronBirds

Evan Danieli, Danville Braves

2. Check the June 20 issue of People magazine. There’s a photo (page 22) of Leonardo DiCaprio (with Blake Lively) wearing a blue baseball cap with an interlocking gold ND on it.

3. Katie Brophy, a former member of the Notre Dame women’s golf team, has been named the head women’sgolf coach at Georgetown, it was announced by Georgetown Director of Athletics Lee Reed Tuesday. The Spokane, Wash., native graduated from Notre Dame in 2006 with a degree in sociology. Brophy was a two-time captain who recorded three medalist honors. She was victorious at the Jeannine McHaney Invitational in 2005, the 2003 BIG EAST Championship and the 2002 Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational. The three-time Monogram winner totaled126 rounds for a 76.60 stroke average during her Irish career. She has a three-way tie for her best round as she carded a 69 (-3) during the second round of the Lady Northern Invitational, the first round of the Jeannine McHaney Invitational and the third round of the Lady Razorback Invitational, all of which came in the fall of 2004. Brophy was named to the all-BIG EAST team in 2003, 2004 and 2006, while also beingnamed the team’s Most Valuable Player by the Monogram Club in 2003 and 2005. She was a four-time member of the National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) All-Scholar team and a two-time Dean’s List member in addition to being named to the BIG EAST Academic All-Star team. Prior to being named the Georgetown women’s head coach, Brophy served as an assistant coach at Indiana for the past five years where in her first season she helped the Hoosiers to their firstappearance in the NCAA Championship since 1998. She also guided freshmen Kellye Belcher, Laura Nochta and Anita Gahir, who were selected by Golfstat’s Freshman Class Impact Rating as the top-ranked freshman class in the country.

4. Notre Dame volleyball operations intern Alisha Ewing was recently inducted into the Rochester High School (Ind.) Hall of Fame. Ewing, a standout athlete at Rochester from 1997-2001, excelled for the Zebras as a high jumper, basketball and volleyball player. In 2001, Ewing ended her prep career as Indiana’s high school state champion in the high jump after clearing the bar at 5-8, becoming the first Rochester student-athlete to win a track and field state title. Ewing edged out former Irish volleyball and track & field All-American Emily Loomis to top thepodium at the state meet. Ewing also earned varsity letters in volleyball and basketball. In fact, Ewing was a three-time all-conference volleyball selection while leading the Zebras to sectional titles in 1998, 1999 and 2000.On the hardwood, Ewing paced Rochester to a pair of sectional championships as team captain. Ewing joined the Irish volleyball staff in the summer of 2008 as the program’s intern after a three-year collegiate coaching stint. She handles video filming and editing, team travel and administrative duties. Ewing enjoyed a successful collegiate career as she shined for Bethel College (Ind.) in volleyball and track. She was the NCCAA indoor and outdoor high jump champion in 2003-04 and an NAIA All-American in the event from 2002-05. The dual-sport athlete garnered all-conference honors in volleyball from 2002-04 and in track & field from 2002-05.

5. A Eighteen Notre Dame baseball players have already opened their summer baseball leagues all across the country. Here is the rundown:
New England Collegiate Baseball League
Sean Fitzgerald – New Bedford Bay Sox
Charlie Markson – New Bedford Bay Sox
Frank DeSico – Holyoke Blue Sox
Trey Mancini – Holyoke Blue Sox
Eric Jagielo – North Shore Navigators
Dan Slania – North Shore Navigators
Joe Hudson – Mystic Schooners

Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
PatrickVeerkamp – Grand Lake Mariners
Breck Ashdown – Lake Erie Monarchs
Ricky Palmer – Lake Erie Monarchs
Chris Reinhart – Lake Erie Monarchs
Forrest Johnson – Stark County Terriers

Futures Collegiate Baseball League
Tommy Chase – Seacoast Mavericks
Donnie Hissa – Seacoast Mavericks

The Prospect League
Bret Basilone – Butler BlueSox

Coastal Plain League
Adam Norton – Morehead City Marlins

Northwoods League
Alex Robinson – Battle Creek Bombers

New York Collegiate Baseball League
John Rodgers – Geneva Red Wings

6. Notre Dame junior tennis player Kristy Frilling (Sidney, Ohio) has been tabbed a 2011 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Singles All-American, it was announced on Thursday. It is the second such honor of Frilling’s career. In order to qualify for singles All-America status, a player must fulfill any of the following requirements: a top-16 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship, reach the round of 16 in the Championship or finish in the top 20 of the final ITA rankings. Frilling met two of the necessities, entering the tournament as the overall No. 5 seed and finishing the season ranked seventh nationally. Over the course of her junior season, Frilling compiled a record of 26-7, including going 18-4 at the No. 1 position during the dual season and posting a mark of 15-6 against nationally-ranked opponents. She helped guide the Irish to their fourth-straight BIG EAST title, en route to earning a bid to the NCAA Championship for the 16th consecutive year. With her No. 5 seeding in the NCAA Singles Championship, Frilling also became the highest-seeded Irish competitor in the field since Michelle Dasso was seeded fourth in ’01. Frilling joins an elite list of former Notre Dame women’s tennis players to be named a singles All-American on twooccasions, becoming the fourth to do so along with Dasso (’99 and `01), Wendy Crabtree (’94 and `95) and Jennifer Hall (’96 and `98). It also represents her fourth overall All-America distinction, as she is a two-time doubles All-American (’09 and ’10) as well, putting her in the company of Dasso andHall as the only three to receive four total All-America nods. 7. Fifteen former Notre Dame men’s soccer players currently are competing professionally around the world. Ten are playing in the United States, while five are overseas. Six former Fighting Irish student-athletes are part of MajorLeague Soccer (MLS) teams, while four are in the United Soccer League (USL)/North American Soccer League (NASL). The foreign countries represented are England, Finland, India and Sweden. Here is the breakdown of where the former Irish players currently are competing (numbers in parentheses indicate years played at Notre Dame):

Major League Soccer (MLS)
Matt Besler – D (2005-08) – Sporting Kansas City
Jeb Brovsky – M/D (2007-10) – Vancouver Whitecaps
Bright Dike – F (2005-09) – Portland Timbers
Bilal Duckett – D (2007-10) – Vancouver Whitecaps
Kevin Goldthwaite – D (2001-04) – Portland Timbers
Justin Morrow – M/D (2006-09) – San Jose Earthquakes

United Soccer League (USL)/North American Soccer League (NASL)
Greg Dalby – M/D (2003-06) – Charlotte Eagles
Jack Stewart – D (2001-04) – NSC Minnesota Stars
Jack Traynor – D (2005-08) – Orlando City
Philip Tuttle – GK (2006-10) – Harrisburg City Islanders

John Mousinho – M (2004) – Stevenage F.C.

Steven Perry – F (2007-10) – Ekenas IF

Joseph Lapira – F (2004-07) – United Sikkim FC

Ryan Miller – D (2003-07) – Halmstads BK
Michael Thomas – M (2006-09) – Ljunskile SK

8. Notre Dame cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks was selected to attend the 2011 NCAA Champion Forum June 16-17 in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) convention. The Champion Forum features a select group of football coaches who have been identified as potential candidates for head football coaching positions at NCAA colleges or universities. The coaches, who were selected by athletics administrators, are generally ethnic minorities who have completed the NCAA Expert program. The NCAA invited football coaches, athletics directors and several speakers from the membership and the NFL to its Champion Forum, the top tier of the NCAA’s coaching academy programs. During the Forum, the coaches, athletics directors and speakers will have time to develop professional relationships in a more informal, private setting. There will be simulated interview sessions, media training, keynote speakers. There will also be opportunities to discuss key topics such as understanding and developing culture within their team and the athletics department and effectively engaging with the campus and academic staff after becoming a head football coach. Through the Forum, the football coaches will have an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the search process and the steps taken by search firms and athletics directors when preparing to hire head football coaches to lead intercollegiate programs. In turn, the athletics directors and administrators will have opportunities to meet, interact and become better acquainted with the football coaches; become “champions” by assisting with the coaches’ continued career growth; and broaden their outlook on potential minority head coaching prospects within the NCAA. Cooks, a former all-Big Ten Conference safety and NFL veteran, is entering his ninth season as a college football coach and second year at Notre Dame. In 2011, Cooks will coach the Irish cornerbacks after working with the outside linebackers in 2010.

9. Sarah Smith, an intern in Notre Dame’s Office of Student Welfare and Development, recently returned from a trip to Joplin, Mo., to deliver relief supplies to families who were affected by the tornadoes that swept through that area of southwest Missouri last month. In the following piece, she offers her thoughts on her trip: “After the devastating storms swept through Alabama in late April, the Notre Dame Student Welfare and Development office and the Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) joined together to put on a donation collection. By partnering with the athletics department of the University of Alabama, we were able to ship clothes, shoes, and other essentials directly to Tuscaloosa. A week after we had started placing boxes in each Fighting Irish locker room, a tornado struck Joplin, Mo. I would be passing through Joplin on my way home to Grove, Okla., the next week. There was no question in my mind that we should use some of the donations we had collected to drop off in Joplin. (Notre Dame Manager of Student Welfare and Development) Keith (Embray) and I loaded my truck to the brim and I drove 10 hours southwest to Joplin and witnessed the extraordinary destruction. Trees where splintered and uprooted and houses were obliterated, leaving scraps of debris everywhere. Once I exited the highway, I stopped at the first church I saw that had huge tents set up with clothes racks and cases of water bottles. This church was one of many relief sites for tornado victims I saw while I drove around town. After speaking with the pastor in charge of the site, his helpers unloaded my truck bed. The community members there were so appreciative and excited that people at Notre Dame cared about them that they wanted to gather everyone in prayer around me. It was a very touching moment to be embraced, not just by members of the Joplin community who were in need, but also members of our extended universal Catholic church. A group of 10 of us held hands as the pastor prayed in thanksgiving and for blessing over the Fighting Irish family and for my family. Even though part of my job at Notre Dame is to do community service with the student-athletes mostly in the South Bend community, this experience impacted me more than ever. Seeing people and hearing their stories of losing everything and being able to provide some support from so far away, the hugs I received and their gratitude, I know first-hand that what we do at Notre Dame makes a difference. I wish some student-athletes could have been in that moment and could have felt and seen how important it is to continually stand in unity with community members in need. Thank you to all the Fighting Irish student-athletes, coaches, and staff who contributed to the donations for the tornado victims. I am very proud and honored to be a part of this community at Notre Dame and it will never cease to amaze me of the broad scope of impact we can have on this world by living out Our Lady’s mission.”

10. Penn State Director of Athletics Tim Curley has announced the hiring of Charmelle Green as Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. Green most recently was the SeniorAssistant Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Welfare & Development at the University of Notre Dame. Green will begin herduties at Penn State in mid-July. She replaces Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Susan Delaney-Scheetz, who retired March 31. Most recently the head of the Officeof Student-Athlete Welfare & Development and the sport administrator forwomen’s swimming & diving, Green has spent the past six years in Notre Dame’s athletic administration. During that time, she oversaw the student development program, with the mission of providing a balanced Notre Dame experience for student-athletes by focusing on five key areas: academic excellence, athletic success, career preparation, community involvement andpersonal development. Green was also the advisor to the women’s rugby program and was the liaison to the Faculty Board on Athletics. She has served on numerous university and conference committees, including the Equity in Athletics Task Force, the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Big EastConference Swimming & Diving Championships Committee, and the Universitycommittees on Strategic Communication and Community Engagement, among others. During the summer of 2009 & 2010, Green was an adjunct faculty member at Indiana University South Bend. Prior to joining athletic administration at Notre Dame, Green was an assistant softball coach from 2001-05. During her tenure on the coaching staff, the Fighting Irish were selected for the NCAA Tournament four times and won four Big East Conference regular season championships. The two-time Big East tournament champions, the Notre Dame staff was twice named Regional Coaching Staff of the Year and were also named Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. Three position players earned All-America honors during Green’s time on the Notre Dame staff. Green’s coaching experience also included two years at Syracuse (1999-2001), where she helped start the Orange’s softball program, and a year at Colorado State (1998-99). An All-American softball player at the University of Utah, Green spent time in Salt Lake City after graduation working as a recreation program coordinator from 1995-98. Among her notable achievements was raising more than $700,000 in annual revenue. She was also an integral part of developing an advisory board for the development of an inner-city school or the arts. A Western Athletic Conference standout, Green was a two-time softball All-American, earning both first-team (1990) and second-team (1991) accolades during her career at Utah. She led the Utes to back-to-back conference titles in 1990 and ’91. Green was named WAC Player of the Year as well as the school’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year following her senior season. She was inducted into the University of Utah’s Hall of Fame in 2001 and was also named one of the University’s Top 25 Greatest Athletes. Green is also enshrined in the State of Utah’s Softball Hall of Fame as well as the Hall of Fame at Mt. Miguel High School in Spring Valley, Calif. A 1991 Utah graduate with a degree in mass communications/public relations, Green earned a masters degree in secondary education in 2003 from IU South Bend.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1. For the third consecutive season, the two most successful women’s basketball programs in BIG EAST Conference history will match up at least twice, as Notre Dame and Connecticut square off in a home-and-home series that highlights the 2011-12 conference schedule matrix that was released Monday. In addition to the Huskies, the Fighting Irish also will welcome NCAA Championship Sweet 16 qualifier DePaul and second-round participants Marquette and West Virginia to Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center as part of their 16-game conference slate, which features eight home and eight road contests, with schools playing every other institution once and one team twice. All told, Notre Dame will play six of its eight conference road games next year at schools that advanced to the postseason in `10-11, led by Connecticut, Georgetown (NCAA Sweet 16), Louisville (NCAA Sweet 16), Rutgers (NCAA second round), St. John’s (NCAA second round) and Syracuse (WNIT quarterfinals). Notre Dame also will travel to Cincinnati and Seton Hall during the coming year. Conversely, four of NotreDame’s eight home contests in BIG EAST play next season will come against `10-11 postseason qualifiers. Besides Connecticut, the featured BIG EAST visitor to Purcell Pavilion for the Fighting Irish next season will be DePaul, with the Blue Demons having advanced to the Philadelphia Regional semifinals of last year’s NCAA Championship before falling to Duke, 70-63. Along with Marquette and West Virginia, Notre Dame also welcomes Pittsburgh, Providence, South Florida and Villanova to Purcell Pavilion next season. Last year’s conference matchups simply were reversed from the 2010-11 season. The full 2011-12 schedule for the Fighting Irish will be announced at a later date, following approval from the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics. A complete list of dates and tip times for all of Notre Dame’s games next season also will be released at that point.

2. Notre Dame baseball first baseman Trey Mancini has been named a 2011 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine, adding to his honor earlier this season as BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. He is the first Notre Dame baseball player to receive first team Freshman All-American honors since RHP Kyle Weiland in 2006. Mancini is the 22nd Notre Dame baseball player since 1990 to receive Freshman All-America honors and 13th such player to be named a first team Freshman All-American. Mancini was thefirst Notre Dame freshman and eighth player in program history to lead the Irish in all three triple-crown categories (batting average, home runs and RBI). Only seven players have accomplished the feat since 1948. The other players to lead Notre Dame in all three categories included Ryan Connolly (2010), Dan Peltier (1989), Mike Trudeau (1985), George Sefcik (1962), Dick O’Leary (1961) and Elmer Kohorst (1956, although tied for home run lead). Mancini led the Irish in batting (.323), hits (61), triples (three), home runs (nine), RBI (34), total bases (109), slugging percentage (.577), on-base percentage (.385), multiple hit games (17), multiple RBI games (nine) and runs scored (33). Heranked sixth in the BIG EAST in slugging percentage and tied for seventh inhome runs. Mancini earned BIG EAST honor roll three times this season. The BIG EAST honored no player more this season in terms of Player of the Week/Honor Roll than Mancini.

3. ESPN Insider on the ESPN web site recently listed eight players as off-the-radar Heisman candidates for 2011 and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was one of them: “The Fighting Irish look poised to make a run at a BCS bowl appearance in 2011. If that happens, the natural reaction will be for fans and media members to identify a driving force behind the team’s rise. Te’o could easily be that focal point. He racked up 129 tackles (8.5 for loss), one sack, three pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble as a sophomore. Those numbers could get even better this year if their front seven develops as much as ESPN Insider Bruce Feldman believes they could. Again, it’s tough for a defensive player to become part of the Heisman race. But a star linebacker on a big-name program like Notre Dame — one who could potentially put up massive numbers — is one of the few that could work his way into the conversation.”

4. Here’s an executive summary of the variousgraduation rate numbers released by the NCAA during the 2010-11 academic year, including details of the NCAA-sponsored Graduation Success Rate (GSR) and Academic Progress Rate (APR) surveys, as well as federal rates compiled by the Department of Education (all rankings and comparisons are based on the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision institutions):

A. Graduation Success Rate (four-class averages based on entering classes of 2000 through 2003)

— Notre Dame ranked firstwith a .863 percentage as 19 of 22 sports recorded 100 scores (Boston College was second at .780 on 19 of 25)

— In specific sports, Notre Dame ranked first in football (96), tied for first in men’s basketball (100), tied for first in women’s basketball (100) and second in hockey (at 95, behind the U.S. Air Force Academy at 96).

— In rankings of all FBS programs, Notre Dame ranked first among all student-athletes (99), first among male student-athletes (98), first among female student-athletes (100), first among black student-athletes (98).

— Notre Dame produced nine men’s scores that ranked first within their respective sports (baseball, basketball, cross country/track and field, fencing, golf, lacrosse, soccer and swimming at 100; football at 96). Hockey at 96 was second. All 11 women’s sports ranked first, all with 100 scores.

B. Academic Progress Rate (four-class compilation from 2006-07 through 2009-10)

— Notre Dame ranked first with 17 sports receiving APR public recognition awards (Duke was second with 15) for ranking in top 10 percent of squads in that sport – nine men’s sports (baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, hockey, lacrosse, tennis, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field) and eight women’s sports (cross country, golf, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field).

— Nine Notre Dame sports registered perfect 1000 scores – men’s cross country, men’s golf, men’s tennis, men’s indoor track and field, men’s outdoor track and field, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s rowing, women’s tennis. Fourteen other teams produced scores of 989 or higher.

— Eleven Notre Dame sports ranked first among the FBS programs – men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s tennis and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field at 1000; men’s lacrosse at 998; men’s hockey at 997. Twelve other sports ranked in the top 10.

C. Federal Graduation Rate (entering classes of 2000 through 2003)

— In rankings of all FBS programs, Notre Dame ranked first among all student-athletes (91, tied withStanford), first among male student-athletes (87, tied with Stanford), firstamong female student-athletes (97), second among black student-athletes (86, behind Rice at 89), and fourth among football student-athletes (at 85, behind Boston College at 87 and Duke and Northwestern at 86).

— Notre Dame produced five men’s scores that ranked first within their respective sports (cross country/track and field at 100, fencing at 100, swimming at 100, lacrosse at 93, hockey at 91. Soccer at 89 was second, and football at 85 was fourth. Seven women’s programs at 100 ranked first (cross country/track and field, crew/rowing, fencing, golf, lacrosse, tennis and volleyball). Swimming at 96 was sixth; soccer at 94 was seventh.

5. ESPN.com recently previewed Notre Dame football for 2011 as part of its online Summer Stock series: “When Brian Kelly took the Notre Dame job in December 2009, fans were primed for the high-powered spread offense he’d featured in his four years at Cincinnati, when his teams combined for a 41-12 record. After all, the year before Kelly arrived in South Bend, his Bearcats were fourth in the country in scoring offense (38.6 points per game) and second in passing efficiency (161.21). They’d even averaged 138.7 yards rushing, more than all but one of Charlie Weis’ teams in his five years as Fighting Irish head coach. But while the Notre Dame defense improved over its 2009 output, making huge jumps in categories like scoringdefense (from 63rd in the nation to 23rd), interceptions (50th to 19th) andsacks (89th to 54th), the new offense needed more time to take root. Now, ayear later, is it ready to produce? With the quarterback situation and the status of star wideout Michael Floyd still up in the air, it’s hard to say with complete certainty. But if the numbers are any indication, the offense has a chance to show improvement — and a run to a BCS bowl game could follow. Here’s some good news for Irish fans: With Kelly, the second year may be the charm. In his second season at Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ scoring offense improved by 15 points per game, and the team’s passing efficiency soared from 45th in the nation to eighth. Both categories are critical to success in college football, and even a modest improvement in these areas would go a long way toward allowing this Notre Dame team to take the next step. (How important is QB rating? Seven of the top eight teams in passing efficiency last season finished in the top 10 of the final AP poll. The eighth, the Arkansas Razorbacks, finished the year at No. 12.) First, though, the coaches need to settle on a QB. A Week 9 injury to Dayne Crist, his second knee injury in as many years, set back his development at a time when both Kelly and offensive coordinator Charley Molnar thought their then-junior quarterback was just starting to understand the nuances of the new offense. Following that game, a 28-27 home loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Notre Dame’s season looked irredeemable. Then a funny thing happened: The Irish rallied behind freshman Tommy Rees, finishing the season 4-0, including the Irish’s first win against USC since 2001 and a Sun Bowl victory over the Miami Hurricanes. Now that Crist has healed from surgery to repair the ruptured patellar tendon in his left knee, he’llhave to prove to the staff that he can be more of the accurate, heady passerthey saw in Rees down the stretch. “Handling those seven to eight throws a game when the protection’s right, the receiver’s open, you’ve got the rightscheme, and all you have to do is execute — that would be the key for Dayne to solidify his hold on the job,” Molnar says. The Irish went 4-5 in Crist starts last year (though that includes the Tulsa loss, in which he threw only two passes before being injured), and while his passing efficiency rating was a bit lower than that of Rees (129.3 versus 132.0), he faced tougher defensesalong the way. To wit: Crist’s opponents, on average, ranked 59th nationally in pass efficiency D, while the teams Rees faced ranked 72nd. If Crist needs to improve his decision-making and completion rate, then Rees has to do a better job getting the ball downfield. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore showed himself to be an impressive leader at the end of 2010, and while he’s not known for his strong arm like the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Crist, Rees’ 11.1 yards percompletion isn’t far off Crist’s 11.7. “He showed some signs this spring of really airing the ball out and putting it on the money,” Molnar says. “If he can do that on a consistent basis, it’ll be hard to beat him out.” Regardless of whether Crist or Rees gets the starting nod, it remains to be seen who will be on the receiving end of passes this year. Losing the dynamic Floyd — who led the team last season with 79 receptions for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns but was suspended March 21 after his third alcohol-related brush with the law since 2009 — would be a huge blow to the Irish offense,which already had to deal with the early draft entry of stud tight end KyleRudolph, the Vikings’ second-round pick. “It’s always difficult to replace an All-American receiver,” Molnar says. “Regardless, we’ve got a Plan A with Mike Floyd, and we’ve got a Plan B moving on without Michael.” If they have to go to Plan B, the Irish will need production from wideouts Theo Riddick and T.J. Jones, as well as from junior tight end Tyler Eifert. The team could afford to improve upon last season’s 6.8 yards per attempt average. Notre Dame’s defense willtake all the help it can get. After an ascendant 2010, the Irish D returns eight players who started at least eight games last season, including junior linebacker and All-America candidate Manti Te’o, who led the team with 133 tackles. With the addition of freshman pass-rushers Ishaq Williams, Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch — the 6-foot-6, 260-pound freshman from Cape Coral, Fla., who turned heads with seven tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, in the spring game — Notre Dame could start to approximate Kelly’s high-pressure Cincinnati defenses that consistently ranked among the nation’s elite in sacks, interceptions and TFLs (all important stat categories in the Eliminator rankings). In the secondary, fifth-year senior safety Harrison Smith (93 tackles, seven interceptions) leads a veteran unit that helped the Irish post a defensive passing efficiency rating of 115.75, good for 25th in the country and a significant improvement over the 2009 pass D (134.76, 82nd). While the Irish had their share of luck last year — who can forget USC’s Ronald Johnson dropping a potential game-winning touchdown with just over a minute to go in Notre Dame’s 20-16 win? — they did finish the season 25th in defensive FEI, Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted defensive efficiency metric. The Irish ranked 69th in 2009. The offense, on the other hand, finished 42nd in the country in FEI last season. But given Kelly’s history and a manageable 2011 schedule — only Stanford looks like a top-10 team, and like other ND opponents, such as Michigan, Pitt andMaryland, the Cardinal went through an offseason coaching change — Notre Dame should be able to boost that number by season’s end. If Floyd is back in the fold, and the winner of the Crist/Rees battle plays to expectations, Kelly might become known for the two-year turnaround.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

1. The University of Notre Dame Friday unveiled retro-style adidas football uniforms that the FightingIrish will wear against Michigan on Sept. 10, 2011, to celebrate the first night game ever played at Michigan Stadium (see images on und.com). This will be the first prime-time meeting between the Irish and Wolverines since a 1990 matchup oftop-five teams in South Bend. ESPN will broadcast the game nationally at 8 p.m. EDT. Paying homage to the rich football tradition of Notre Dame football, the Irish “Under the Lights” adidas uniform includes a white jersey with Kelly green lettering and two Kelly green shoulder stripes, old gold-colored pants, white socks with green stripes and white shoes. A large shamrock logo appears on the traditional gold helmet for the first time since the early 1960s. The years the Fighting Irish won National Championships are listed inside the bottom hem of the jersey. Later this summer, adidas will launch an “Under the Lights” fan collection – including retro style t-shirts, hats, jackets and sweatshirts featuring a vintage feel and design inspired by Notre Dame football history and its rivalry with Michigan.

2. Matthew Botsford, an assistant coach on the Notre Dame volleyball staff, was recently named the head coach for the Swedish club team Lindesberg Volley. A 13-year veteran in thecollege coaching ranks, Botsford spent over three seasons with the Irish after being hired in February of 2008. Botsford is already a well-known icon within theSwedish professional ranks, having spent the spring of 2003 playing for theVingaker Volleyball Club. He displayed his all-around skills by emerging as one of the team’s most prolific players, leading the squad in blocks and hitting percentage throughout the playoffs. Botsford helped guide Vingaker to the finals of the Swedish Elite Series and a berth in the European CEV Cup for the first time in the team’s 30-year history. Botsford was an instrumental part of Notre Dame’s recent success on the court, including a BIG EAST regular season title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009. In fact, three Irish players – Jamel Nicholas, Christina Kaelin and Serinity Phillips – copped All-American honors during his tenure under the Golden Dome.

3. Maddie Buttinger, Jeremy Rae and Johnathan Shawel of the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s track and field teams concluded competition Saturday at the 2011 NCAA Championship. Rae claimed ninth place in the 1,500-meter finals in 3:45.53 to just miss an All-American nod. Buttinger finished in 12th place in the heptathlon and totaled 5,282 points. During the second portion of the competition the junior claimed 15th place with a mark of 5.35m in the long jump, followed by 16th place (34.47m) in the javelin throw. Buttinger concluded the championship event with a seventh-place showing in 2:19.53 in the 800-meter run. Rae and Shawel concluded the season in the 1,500-meter run. Rae claimed ninth place in 3:45.53 and Shawel was the 13th-place finisher in 3:53.50.

4. Former University of Notre Dame baseball player and assistant coach – and longtime Notre Dame Alumni Association executive director – Chuck Lennon Tuesday will be inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame in New York City. Induction ceremonies will be held at noon at Foley’s, at 18 West 33rd Street in New York, N.Y. Presenting Lennon for induction will be Notre Dame graduate and television personality Regis Philbin. Also being inducted Tuesday will be All-Star pitcher Nolan Ryan. Founded in 2008, the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes players, managers, executives, journalists and entertainers of Irish descent who have significantly and positively impacted the game of baseball. Potential inductees are evaluated based on their impact on the game, popularity on and off the field, contributions to society and ancestry and connections to the Irish community. Lennon is retiring at the end of June after 30 years of service to Notre Dame alumni. He has been a member of the Notre Dame community for 51 years. A Joliet, Ill., native, Lennon is a 1960 Notre Dame graduate who earned two monograms in baseball and then went on to serve as an Irish assistant baseball coach until 1967. In recent years, Lennon has continued to travel with the Irish baseball squad on occasion and catch batting practice.

5. Former Irish football wide receiver Bobby Brown recently received his MBA from Yale Business School. Brown already is a Notre Dame Law School graduate.

6. Former Notre Dame football stars Dave Casper and Rocky Bleier have been named to the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. They will be inducted at the hall’s annual dinner Sept. 21, at the Hawthorne Race Course in Cicero, Ill.

7. A feature story on Notre Dame track and cross country coach Joe Piane that was written by Notre Dame senior associate athletics director John Heisler has been chosen the national story of the year in results from the 2011 CoSIDA Fred S. Stabley Sr. Writing Contest. Heisler’s piece appeared in the athletics department holiday soft-cover book titled “Strong of Heart.” Another profile in that book, a feature on former Irish football lineman John Scully that also was authored by Heisler, was selected the top general feature in CoSIDA District 5.

8. There are a couple of local connections to the NCAA Championships baseball super regional that finishes tonight between Virginia and UC-Irvine. Virginia’s head coach is former Irish assistant Brian O’Connor. Meanwhile, Dillon Moyer, a freshman infielder on the UC-Irvine roster, scored a run as a pinch-runner in his team’s victory Sunday. Moyer is the son of MLB pitcher Jamie Moyer and grandson of former Irish basketball coach Digger Phelps.

9. CBSSports.com recently selected its top 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues and other things related to the 2011 college football season – and listed Irish linebacker Manti Te’o 25th on the list, with these comments: “During his time in South Bend, Charlie Weis seemed to have a lot of success recruiting offensive players. On the defensive side of the ball, while Weis brought in some solid players, the game-changing playmakers you need to win were never seemed to be among them. That is, until Weis went to Hawai’i and landed Manti Te’o. Weis may be gone, but the “Hawaiian Hitman” remains and Brian Kelly is thrilled to have him. The biggest factor in Notre Dame’s strong finish in 2010 was a defense that shut down opposing offenses, and Te’o was the driving force in that unit. Through his first two seasons Te’o has racked up 192 tackles (129 of them in 2010) and 14 tackles-for-loss. Te’o can be counted on to fly to the ball on every play, and while he’s not as polished in pass coverage, he canstuff the run with the best linebackers in the country. What should scare offensive coordinators this year is that with the stockpile of talent NotreDame has built on its defensive line the last few years, Te’o should be free to seek and destroy all season long. And if that’s the case, it may not be long until Notre Dame is back on a BCS stage — with Te’o the face of its success.”

Friday, June 10, 2011

1. Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, the 2001 consensus national coach of the year and winner of nearly 650 games in her illustrious career, officially will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame during a gala ceremony Saturday night at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. McGraw is one of six people — and the lone coach — named to the 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class. The others in McGraw’s Hall of Fame class include former Olympic gold medalists Ruthie Bolton (Auburn) and Vicky Bullett (Maryland), as well as Val Ackerman, the first WNBA president (1996-2005) and first female president of USA Basketball (2005-08), and a pair of three-time All-America players from the pre-NCAA era, Pearl Moore (Frances Marion) and Lometa Odom (Wayland Baptist). In addition, the legendary All-American Red Heads, one of the nation’s first women’s basketball teams which barnstormed around the country from 1936-86, will be honored for their contributions to the game with a display at the Hall entitled “Trailblazers of the Game,” set to be unveiled during the 2011 Induction Weekend.

McGraw’s busy weekend actually begins at 7 p.m. (ET) today, as she is scheduled to be one of the featured speakers at the Universal Notre Dame (UND) Celebration hosted by the Notre Dame Club of Knoxville/East Tennessee. On Friday, a private welcome event for all of this year’s inductees will take place at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville. The event, which is byinvitation only, will feature the unveiling of the display cases honoring each of the six members in the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, as well as the presentation of a diamond WBHOF pin and commemorative autographed basketball for the class members. In addition, veteran college basketball broadcaster Debbie Antonelli will host an informal storytelling session with this year’s inductees. The majority of the Induction Weekend events will take place on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. (ET) with the 4Kay Run/Walk in memory of Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer and longtime North Carolina State University head coach Kay Yow, who lost her battle with breast cancer in January 2009. McGraw is scheduled to take part in this year’s 4Kay Run/Walk, which will begin at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame building and is open to the public. Registration for the run can be found on the Hall’s official web site (www.wbhof.com), with all proceeds going to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Following the 4Kay Run/Walk and its awards ceremony, each of this year’s inductees will participate in a public autograph session in the north rotunda at the Hall of Fame, beginning at approximately 10 a.m. (ET). The centerpiece of the weekend is the Induction Ceremony, scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday at the Bijou Theater. The black-tie gala, also hosted by Antonelli, will feature speeches and video tributes honoring the Class of 2011, along with performances by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the WBHOF Choir and soloist Evelyn Jack, who will perform the Hall’s official theme song, “The Dream.” A post-induction celebration and silent auction will follow the ceremony at 9 p.m. (ET) back at the Hall of Fame.

McGraw is the first Notre Dame selection for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The Fighting Irish skipper also becomes the third BIG EAST Conference coach chosen for the honor, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (2001) and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (2006) in that elite company. Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan also was a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame inaugural class in 1999, going in primarily for her accomplishments as a player at Old Dominion. McGraw also will be the seventh active college head coach to enter the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on the basis of her success on the sidelines. Besides Stringer and Auriemma, the others on this notable list are: Pat Summitt (1999 – Tennessee), Tara VanDerveer (2002 – Stanford), Sylvia Hatchell (2004 – North Carolina) and Andy Landers (2007 – Georgia).

Having completed her 29th season as a collegiate head coach, and her24th year at Notre Dame back in March, McGraw has compiled a 644-252 (.719)overall record, including a 556-211 (.725) ledger with the Fighting Irish. She ranks among the top 20 active NCAA Division I coaches with her 644 career wins (reaching the 600-win milestone on Jan. 19, 2010, at Louisville in her 839th game, tying for 10th-fastest to 600 wins in Division I history) and her .719 all-time winning percentage. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the veteran Notre Dame head coach, whose list of accomplishments puts her among the greats in women’s college basketball history:

— The 2001 NCAA National Championship, defeating Purdue in the title game, 68-66.
— McGraw is one of only eight active Division I coaches to guide her team to a national title.
— Two trips in the NCAA Division I national championship game, adding a berth in the 2011 final against Texas A&M. McGraw is one of just seven active Division I coaches (and 11 all-time) with multiple appearances in the NCAA national championship game — and one of only four active Division I coaches with multiple title-game berths AND a national championship to her credit.
— Three trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four (1997, 2001 and 2011). McGraw is one of just nine active Division I coaches to lead her team to three Women’s Final Four appearances.
— Nine NCAA Sweet 16 trips, all in the past 15 seasons (1997-2011). The Fighting Irish are one of only eight programs in the nation that can make that claim.
— 21 seasons with 20-or-more victories, including 17 in the past 18 years (1993-2011). — — Notre Dame also has posted eight 25-win seasons and three 30-win campaigns in the past 15 years (1997-2011).
— 18 NCAA tournament appearances, including a current string of 16 consecutive NCAA tournament berths (the sixth-longest active run of consecutive appearances and 10th-longest streak at any time in NCAA tournament history). During this current streak (1996-2011), Notre Dame has won at least one NCAA postseasongame 14 times.
— 74 wins over ranked opponents, including 63 in the past 13 seasons alone (1998-2011). In addition, 23 of those wins have come against top-10 opponents, including five against top-five teams and three against No. 1-ranked squads.
— 216 appearances in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (including an active school-record streak of 77 consecutive weeks in the AP poll). McGraw is 13th among active Division I coaches and 22nd all-time in terms of AP poll appearances (through final 2010-11 poll). Notre Dame also has spent 103 weeks ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, all in the past 13 seasons (1997-2011).
— 13 top-four finishes in the BIG EAST Conference during Notre Dame’s first 16 years in that league (1995-96 through 2010-11). The Fighting Irish also won a share of the 2001 BIG EAST regular-season title.
— 15 consecutive top-20 recruiting classes, dating back to the incoming class of 1997 (and including the incoming class of 2011, ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation). Notre Dame is one of just three programs in the nation that owns an active streak of that length.
— One of only six coaches in the 125-year history of Fighting Irish athletics to win 500 games at Notre Dame, joining fencing’s Michael DeCicco and Yves Auriol,tennis/wrestling coach Tom Fallon and baseball’s Jake Kline and Paul Mainieri.
— A perfect 100-percent graduation rate for all players entering the program since 1987 who have completed their athletic and academic eligibility at Notre Dame (a spotless 64-for-64 success rate). The Fighting Irish have posted a perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score in each of the past four years, and they are one of only three programs in the country to combine a perfect GSR score with a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 three times within the past four seasons (2008, 2010, 2011).

Success for McGraw also has meant coaching great players. During herillustrious career, the Notre Dame skipper has coached 13 All-Americans, including 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley, and three Fighting Irish players who will return in 2011-12 — guards Skylar Diggins and Natalie Novosel, and forward Devereaux Peters. McGraw also has worked with five players who have been selected for USA Basketball National Teams — not counting Novosel and Peters, who join Diggins as finalists for the 2011 USAWorld University Games Team — with those players going on to win a total ofnine medals (highlighted by Riley’s gold with the ’04 U.S. Olympic Team). In addition, McGraw has coached 24 players who have earned all-conference recognition a total of 51 times, including 18 first-team picks who have been chosen a total of 30 times, and has helped shape numerous other national award winners, namely two Frances Pomeroy Naismith award recipients (Niele Ivey in 2001, Megan Duffy in 2006) and 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year Jacqueline Batteast.

Another sign of McGraw’s success has been her ability to prepare herplayers for the next level. No less than 21 Notre Dame cagers have gone on to play professionally (domestically or overseas), including nine who either have been drafted or signed as free agents with WNBA teams. The past decade has seen the greatest influx of Fighting Irish talent into the WNBA, with seven Notre Dame players having been selected in the league’s annual draft since 2001. Four of those players — Riley, Ivey, Kelley Siemon and Ericka Haney — were starters on the ’01 Fighting Irish NCAA championship team, and five of the recent Fighting Irish WNBA draftees (Riley, Ivey, Batteast, Duffy and Charel Allen) earned All-America status during their careers at Notre Dame. Dedicated to helping grow and further the sport in any way possible, McGraw has groomed 11 of her former players and/or assistant coaches who currently are serving as coaches at either the high school or college level. Of those 11 proteges, five presently are Division I head coaches — 1988 Notre Dame graduate Sandy Botham (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), 1997 Notre Dame graduate and the school’s all-time leading scorer Beth (Morgan) Cunningham (Virginia Commonwealth), Bill Fennelly (Iowa State), Kevin McGuff (Washington) and 1991 Notre Dame graduate Coquese Washington (Penn State). McGuff and Washington (along with current FightingIrish associate coach Carol Owens) comprised McGraw’s assistant coaching staff on Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA national championship squad, while McGuff and Owens also were on staff for the Fighting Irish during their run to the 1997 NCAAWomen’s Final Four.

A native of West Chester, Pa., McGraw received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Saint Joseph’s University (Pa.) in 1977. Following graduation, she coached for two seasons at Philadelphia’s Archbishop Carroll High School (50-3 record) and two more at her alma mater as an assistant coach under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Ohio State). In 1982, McGraw was named head coach at Lehigh University, her teams finishing 88-41 (.683) during her five-yeartenure. McGraw and her husband, Matt, will celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary in 2011 and make their home in Granger, Ind. They are parents of 21-year-old son Murphy, who recently completed his junior year at Indiana University.

2. Notre Dame senior baseball RHP Cole Johnson and C Matt Scioscia were selected during Wednesday’s third and final day of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Johnson was chosen with the 27th pick of the 44th round or the 1348th overall by the Minnesota Twins, while Scioscia was chosen with the 14th pick of the 45th round or the 1,365th overall by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Johnson went 5-7 with a 2.76 earned-run average in 2011. He registered 11 quality starts over his 15 outings in 2011. Johnson also worked into the seventh inning in 10 of his 15 starts. He struck out 87 and walked 31 in 101.0 innings pitched. Johnson limited his foes to a .211 batting average and a total of just 78 hits. Johnson allowed two earned runs or less in nine starts. In fact, he allowed an earned run or less in seven outings. Johnson led or tied for the team-lead in ERA, opposing batting average, wins, fewest hits allowed, fewest runs allowed and fewest earned runs allowed. He ranked third in the BIG EAST in opposing batting average, fifth in strikeouts, tied for fifth in games started (15), sixth in strikeouts looking (27), eighth in ERA, ninth in innings pitched and 12th in runs allowed (35).

Johnson, a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior Class Award and Capital One Academic All-District V selection, maintained a 3.68 GPA in the College of Science as a double major in pre-professional studies and Spanish language and literature. After the 2010 fall semester, he was named to the Dean’s List for the second time. Johnson was also one of 40 Notre Dame student-athletes in the University’s honors program. He was also named a Big East academic all-stareach of the last four years. Scioscia played in 88 games over his Irish career and started 40. He batted .267 with two home runs and 34 RBI with 14 runs scored and six doubles.

3. Four members of the 2011-12 Notre Dame hockey team are among a group of 40 skaters that have been invited to attend the 2011 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp that will be held in Lake Placid, N.Y., from August 6 through August 13. The list of goaltenders selected will be announced later this month. All participating players are candidates for the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2011 to Jan. 5, 2012, in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Attending the camp from Notre Dame are sophomore defenseman Stephen Johns (Wampum, Pa.) along with sophomore right wing Bryan Rust (Novi, Mich.) and sophomore center T.J. Tynan (Orland Park, Ill.). That trio will be joined by incoming freshman defenseman Robbie Russo (Westmont, Ill.). Johns and Rust attended the camp last summer while Tynan and Russo will be makingtheir first appearances. The camp, which will take place at Lake Placid’s Olympic Center, will feature practices, intra-squad scrimmages and international games featuring Finland, Sweden and the United States.

4. Jack Howard of the NotreDame men’s track and field team concluded his career with the Irish as he finished 18th in 1:48.24 at the semifinals of the 800-meter run Wednesday during the NCAA Championship at the Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa. Howard finished the race in 1:48.24 for an 18th-place finish. The trip to the 2011 Outdoor NCAA Finals is the middle distance runner’s third consecutive appearance at the Championship meet. At the 2010 Indoor NCAAs Howard claimed All-American honors in the 800-meter run as he finished 1:54.21 and a seventh-place finish. Then, at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championship Howard anchored the distance medley relay to a fourth-place finish in 9:30.16 to mark his second All-American honor. The Libertyville, Ill. native ran his personal best in the 800-meter race during the 2011 BIG EAST Outdoor Championship where he finished in first place in 1:48.24, the exact time he ran at the during the NCAA semifinal race. Jeremy Rae and Johnathan Shawel are set to compete in the semifinals of the 1,500-meter run today at 7:15 p.m. (ET). Maddie Buttinger begins the heptathlon with the 100-meter hurdles today.

5. Notre Dame Sports Properties earned honorable mention notice Tuesday at the Sports Video Group College Sports Video Summit in Atlanta in the live event awards category for its 2010webcast of the Blue-Gold football game.

Friday, June 3, 2011

1. Notre Dame senior cross country/track and field athlete Erica Watson (Noblesville, Ind./Noblesville) has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District VWomen’s Track & Field/Cross Country Team. She competed in all but one cross country meet on the season while posting a cumulative grade-point average of 3.97. An eighth-place finish that helped the Irish to the team title at the National Catholic Invitational highlighted her senior cross country campaign. She concluded her season with top-50 finishes at both the BIG EAST Championships and the NCAA Midwest Regional. As a junior, she notched a pair of top-10 finishes as she helped the Irish reach the NCAA Championships, where she placed 196th as an individual.

2. University of Notre Dame men’s soccer head coach Bobby Clark certainly got a kick out of the festivities at the Monogram Club’s summer mass & cookout Thursday night in the Joyce Center’s Club Naimoli. While enjoying a meal with Notre Dame friends and family, little did Clark know that a major surprise was in store for him. He assumed his daughter, Jen, flew in from Vermont with her three children to spend some time in South Bend with her father after his recent knee operation. It wasn’t until deputy athletics director and former Monogram Club executive director Bill Scholl took to the podium that he realized his family’s true reason for making the trip to Indiana was to see him receive an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club. While trying on his new Monogram letter jacket – presented to him by Scholl and Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter – Clark was treated to a video presentation from former Notre Dame assistant coach and current head coach of Georgetown University Brian Wiese. Also in attendance for the special presentation were Clark’s wife, Bette, assistantmen’s soccer coaches Chad Riley (an ’04 Notre Dame graduate) and BJ Craig, volunteer assistant coach Vern Gingerich and Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick (a ’76 Notre Dame graduate). Clark has guided the Notre Dame men’s soccer program to 10 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances (a program first), a BIG EAST tournament title in 2003 and three BIG EAST regular-season crowns (2004, 2007 and 2008). Notre Dame reached new heights within the program by advancing to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals for the first time ever in 2006 and made a repeat appearance in 2007.

3. Senior Heather Johnson and junior Dani Miller were both part of the 2011 Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-American third team, it was announced Wednesday afternoon. No other BIG EAST Conference players were named to this season’s first, second or third team. Johnson, afifth-year senior third baseman from Los Alamitos, Calif., put up huge offensive numbers in 2011 with a .383 batting average and .651 slugging percentage. Johnson accounted for 67 hits, 11 doubles, 12 home runs, 64 RBI and 114 total bases. She drew 17 walks and was fanned on just 10 occasions in 175 at-bats. Johnson was also the 2011 BIG EAST Player of the year, a first-team all-league choice and a second-team all-region selection. An infielder from Huntington Beach, Calif., Miller parlayed a recently earned third all-region honor into her first All-American accolade. With 11 home runs this past season, Miller became the first Irish player ever to smack double-digit home runs in the first three seasons with the program. Miller hit .333 on the year and drove in 37 runs with a .563 slugging percentage. Most impressively, she did not commit an error in 210 chances while playing both first and second base for the Irish. Miller was named to the third team at the utility position.

4. In the area of obscure baseball trivia, have there been longer combinations of letters, in terms of a batter hitting a home run off a pitcher, than recently when Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit one off former Irish star Jeff Samardzija (that’s 24 letters, if you’re counting)? Try Todd Hollandsworth connecting off Bill VanLandingham.

5. Former Notre Dame field hockey captain and goalie MaryJean “MJ” (Beetel) Jones, an ’88 Notre Dame graduate living in Riverside, Ill., died Monday of complications from cancer.

6. The sixth annual Play Like A Champion Sports Leadership Conference will be held June 24-26 on the Notre Dame campus. The event is designed for administrators, coaches and parents from youth and high school programs who wish to explore sports as a ministry and coaching for character. Among the featured speakers are former Notre Dame football All-American Jeff Burris, former NBA player Bob Bigelow, former Irish football player and current orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian Ratigan, current Irish women’s soccer coach Randy Waldrum, Irish athletics director and vice president Jack Swarbrick and Susan Saint Sing, a member of the 1993 United States rowing team. There’s more information at www.playlikeachampion.org.

7. The most detailed of the college football preview magazines is out – and so here’s what Phil Steele’s 2011 College Football Preview says about the Irish:
— Notre Dame ranks sixth in its preseason poll.
— The Irish will play Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
— Michael Floyd and Mani Te’o are second-team All-America choices; Harrison Smith and David Ruffer are fourth-team picks.
— In unit rankings, Notre Dame is listed 20th for quarterbacks, 38th for running backs, sixth for receivers, 11th for offensive linemen, 15th for defensive linemen, fifth for linebackers, eighth for defensive backs and 19th for special teams.
— Notre Dame is listed as the #2 “surprise team” for 2011.
— The Irish are rated sixth for their 2011 recruiting class.
— Notre Dame rates sixth in terms of winning percentage of its 2011 opponents (after its 2010 schedule also ranked sixth toughest).
— Notre Dame’s projected 2011 pass offense ranks eighth, its pass defense rates 12th and its scoring defense ranks sixth.
— Linebacker Manti Te’o is one of three players on the national cover.

8. Check back to und.com next week for video coverage of tonight’s event at Purcell Pavilion featuring former football coaches Ara Parseghian, Lou Holtz and Gerry Faust – with Regis Philbin set to serve as master of ceremonies.