Father Joyce was an influential voice in the NCAA, particularly dealing with educational integrity in college athletics.  He served the University for 35 years as the executive vice president during the presidency of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Remembering Father Joyce

Oct. 1, 2004

By Pete LaFleur

The Notre Dame family lost a legendary figure on May 2, 2004, as the University’s former executive vice president Rev. Edmund P. “Ned” Joyce, C.S.C., died at Holy Cross House on campus. He was 87.

The death of Father Joyce – who had been a central figure in Notre Dame’s athletic success for nearly four decades – came at a time when the athletic department already was in mourning for former athletic director Mike Wadsworth, who had passed away four days earlier at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. (see sidebar).

Father Joyce, whose namesake is Notre Dame’s primary athletic facility, the Joyce Center, retired in 1987 after serving 35 years as chief financial officer during the presidency of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Father Hesburgh fittingly gave the eulogy at Father Joyce’s Mass of Christian Burial, held at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. His words to the congregation included a passage from a letter he had just received from Pete Dawkins, the legendary Army football player and 1958 Heisman Trophy winner who also was a standout hockey player and attended Oxford (where he starred in rugby) before becoming the youngest general in the U.S. Army history, at the age of 45.

“(The letter from) Pete Dawkins said, `Father Ned was always there when there was a problem in athletics. And he always had an answer. But the thing that shone through him in that long series of relationships with the NCAA was (that) he believed athletes should be students and students should be athletes,” said Father Hesburgh, in relaying the comments from Dawkins.

Dawkins letter also told of Father Joyce’s belief that “athletes should not just put out, but they should take in the wisdom of the schools in which they serve – and (Father Joyce) would stand up to all the naysayers and repeat that again and again.”

“And things are beginning to change because of Ned,” added Father Hesburgh.

Father Joyce’s life story is one of amazing accomplishment tempered by a humble, caring persona. Many will remember him as a tremendous fundraiser … but just as many will remember him as a nurturing priest and loyal friend.

“I think Notre Dame is a better university today because he did so many things that only he had the qualities of understanding and ability to take care of,” said Father Hesburgh, at the funeral mass. “I can’t tell you how many millions of dollars he raised to make this a better place.”

In his 1992 book, “Travels with Ted & Ned,” Father Hesburgh earlier had written, “When I was away, (Ned) was acting president, the man in charge. … I never worried for a moment about how the university was doing in my absence. I knew I had nothing to worry about. He was a man of impeccable moral character, shrewd judgment, rocklike fidelity and unfailing dependability.”

“Travels with Ned & Ted” chronicles the friendship of Notre Dame’s dynamic former leaders and highlights their exciting post-retirement journeys that included traveling thousands of miles across the great parks in the American West and Alaska, spending a month on an explorer ship that traversed the entire Amazon River, serving as co-chaplains on the oceanliner Queen Elizabeth II. for a round-the-world trip – and, finally, a return tour of duty on the explorer ship for a voyage to the Antarctic.

Jim Gibbons, Notre Dame’s former assistant vice president for special events and protocol, offered a telling tribute to Father Joyce following his death.

“Father Joyce was a respected voice in intercollegiate athletics, one listened to in NCAA and College Football Association circles,” said Gibbons. “He monitored the integrity of athletics at Notre Dame very carefully, paying particular attention to admission standards and graduation rates. He was proud of the fact that athletics at Notre Dame earned a surplus that went to support academic aspirations at the University and contributed to the overall fiscal prosperity.

“(He and Father Hesburgh) made up one of the most successful administrative teams on any American campus. ‘Ted has the books, and Ned has the tickets’ was a standard way of describing the way in which they divided their tasks – but, of course, Father Joyce’s influence extended well beyond athletics into the overall management of the fiscal fortunes of Notre Dame.”

Father Joyce was born in British Honduras (now Belize) on Jan. 26, 1917, and graduated from Spartanburg (S.C.) High School. He was the first student from South Carolina ever to attend Notre Dame and earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting, magna cum laude, in 1937. He worked with the L.C. Dodge accounting firm in Spartanburg and became a certified public accountant in ’39.

He entered Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C. – then the C.S.C.’s theological house of studies – in 1945 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1949 at Notre Dame’s Sacred Heart Church. After ordination, Father Joyce was named Notre Dame’s assistant vice president for business affairs and then acting vice president in 1949. His tenure was interrupted by a year of advanced study at Oxford University in England. He returned in ’51 as vice president for business affairs and in ’52 was elevated to executive vice president, also serving as chairman of the Faculty Board on Athletics and the University building committee.

Father Joyce was an influential voice in the NCAA, particularly dealing with educational integrity in college athletics. He was instrumental in forming the College Football Association and served as its secretary-treasurer while the National Football Foundation honored Father Joyce with its Distinguished American Award.

President Eisenhower appointed Father Joyce to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the U.S. Air Force awarded him an Exceptional Service Medal. He was inducted into the Indiana Academy in 1990 and three endowed chairs were established in his name at Notre Dame. After retirement, Father Joyce served as honorary chair of the Badin Guild, a planned giving organization for benefactors who provide estate gifts to the University. He also was a life trustee of the University.

Gifts in honor of Father Joyce may be made to the Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Fund for Notre Dame (1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556).


Mike Wadsworth, director of athletics from 1995-2000, died April 28, 2004, at the age of 60 after a battle with cancer. He earlier had received a kidney transplant from his wife Bernie, in an extremely rare spouse-to-spouse match.

During Wadsworth’s tenure, Notre Dame entered the BIG EAST Conference in ’95-’96 and won four men’s and three women’s Commissioner’s Trophies for overall excellence. He helped oversee renovation and expansion to Notre Dame Stadium (adding some 20,000 seats), played a principal role in negotiating Notre Dame’s place in the Bowl Championship Series, and assisted in negotiating an extension of the contract with NBC to televise Notre Dame’s home football games.


Wadsworth’s tenure at Notre Dame coincided with the establishment of a Life Skills Program for student-athletes and he oversaw increased opportunities for women, with the addition of the now nationally ranked rowing and lacrosse programs along with 22 new scholarships for women’s teams.



Wadsworth’s tenure also coincided with the establishment of a Life Skills Program for student-athletes and he oversaw increased opportunities for women, with the addition of the now nationally ranked rowing and lacrosse programs along with 22 new scholarships for women’s teams. The Notre Dame athletic program also was ranked third in the nation in a Sporting News evaluation of all-around standards.

A defensive tackle with the Irish football program and a 1966 graduate with a degree in political science, Wadsworth returned to his alma mater after a distinguished career in a wide range of fields. Prior to his appointment at Notre Dame, he represented his native Canada for five years as ambassador to Ireland (’89-’94).

Wadsworth – who played five seasons with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (’66-’70), following the legacy of his father John “Bunny” Wadsworth – went on to earn his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in his hometown of Toronto. He was an arbitrator and mediator for Toronto-based Stitt, Feld, Handy & Houston from ’71-’81, arguing several cases before the Canadian Supreme Court while pursuing his media career. He entered the business world in 1981 as vice president for administration of Tyco Laboratories and later completed Harvard’s advanced management program (’85), after entering the executive ranks of Crown, Inc. As senior vice-president of U.S. operations for Crown Life Insurance (’87-’89), he helped restructure its U.S.-based business.

He is survived by his wife Bernie and three daughters. The family requests donations in Mike Wadsworth’s name be sent to Gift of Life Transplant House, 705 2nd St., Rochester, MN 55902.

The former Notre Dame football players listed below passed away in the previous year and were remembered at the Monogram Club mass on June 3, 2004: Larry Danbom (’37), Dick Gray (’84), Dr. John Kelleher (’40), John Lanahan (’43), Bernard Meter (’47), Ed Mieszkowski (’46), Tom Miller (’43), Paul Rainkin (’72), Charles Riffle (’40) , Mike Wadsworth (’66) and Mike Zikas (’72). Other recently deceased Monogram Club members with ties to the football program who were recognized at the mass included student manager William Keating (’43) and three honorary monogram recipients: Jack Connor (’50), Red. Edmund Joyce, C.S.C. (’37) and Joe Moore.