Feb. 8, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In a surprise announcement on Monday, the University of Notre Dame announced that Michael Wadsworth would step down at the conclusion of his five-year commitment.
The commitment is set to end this year. University president Edward Malloy announced that not only is Wadsworth leaving but that the athletic department is restructuring. The restructuring is a result of the NCAA violations.
“Mike Wadsworth and I have reached this agreement based on a number of factors,” Father Malloy said. “I stated in December that the University’s response to the recent problems in our football program had included a comprehensive external review of our athletic policies and procedures. As a result of that review, I have decided to institute a substantial restructuring of administrative responsibilities in athletics. In light of this restructuring, Mike’s five-year commitment, and the conclusion of the current five-year plan in athletics, he and I agree that now is the time for a fresh start for us both.”
“We have come through the NCAA matter, we are reaching the end of the current five-year plan in the athletic department, and my personal five-year commitment to the University also is about to end,” Wadsworth said. “Reflecting on the timing of all these events with the restructuring that Father Malloy intends to carry out, I believe it’s in both the University’s and my best interests to end my tenure this year.”
Malloy stated that he would soon appoint a chairperson to being the search for a new athletic director. The chair would report to Malloy directly. He did not suggest that one of Notre Dame’s current assistant athletic directors would be elevated to the athletic director position.
Wadsworth met with coaches and members of the athletic department to tell them of his decision. The announcement caught numerous members of the athletic department off guard.
His role as athletic director came under fire not only with the NCAA violations and the questioning of Notre Dame’s ethical standards. Many University officials questioned Wadsworth’s endorsement of Utah coach Rick Majerus to take over the Notre Dame basketball program. Also criticism came when Lou Holtz left to be replaced by Bob Davie.
During Wadsworth’s term, Notre Dame entered the Big East and has earned the Big East Commissioner’s Trophy four consecutive years in the men’s divisions and the women have won three straight as well. The Commissioner’s Trophy is a comprehensive all-sport trophy.
Also under his tenure, Notre Dame finished third in Sporting News’ evaluation of overall athletic programs. Notre Dame boasts 99 percent graduation rate for student-athletes who complete four years of eligibility.
“There is no denying that problems often lead to accomplishments being overlooked, and that certainly has been true with respect to Mike Wadsworth, whose contributions to Notre Dame have been substantial,” Father Malloy said. “As I said in December, Mike and Father Beauchamp and I all are committed to doing everything we can to uphold Notre Dame’s high standards for the conduct of athletics.”