Reading the thread below makes one miss Mike DeCicco
by other_guy (2023-06-27 14:45:48)

—Lastly, and some might consider this the Newark, N.J., native’s most significant contribution to his alma mater, DeCicco was the school’s first academic advisor for student-athletes. Prior to his accepting the position in 1964, it was an office that did not exist, figuratively or literally, as DeCicco’s first office was the men’s executive bathroom on the first floor of the Main Building. No other national university had such a position at the time.

“They had five players flunk out of school the year before I arrived,” said Parseghian, who was hired following the miserable 1963 season. “Father (Edmund) Joyce and Father (Theodore) Hesburgh were committed to putting together a team that could succeed both on the field and in the classroom.”

In obliging the request, DeCicco, who was also a husband and father of five children, had little idea what he had gotten himself into. Before long he was overseeing not only the football team, but also every varsity sport. Instead of having 40 to 50 fencers under his watch, he soon had nearly 500 student-athletes.

Thermodynamics, DeCicco’s academic specialty, is the study of heat and related forms of energy. While one might consider a hug an endothermic reaction, in that it absorbs heat, the stout professor of swords and science was equally prone to exothermic reactions, explosions, particularly when student-athletes were lagging academically.

“One time early on Mike barged into my office and he was livid,” Parseghian recalls, chuckling. “‘Five of your football players skipped a class! If you don’t go to class, how do you expect to graduate!?!’

“‘Wait a minute, Mike’, I told him. ‘I’m on your team.’”

There exist, claims Dan Harshman, a member of the 1966 national championship football team who helped compile a biography on DeCicco, A Notre Dame Man, a plethora of stories about DeCicco “scaring people into being good students.” One such tale involves pulling a football player by the facemask off Cartier Field during practice and marching him over to a professor who was expecting a paper. Another time DeCicco confronted two-time All-America defensive end Ross Browner, one of the most imposing men ever to don a gold helmet, inside his office. Brandishing a sword, DeCicco warned the Outland Trophy winner that his reproductive organs would be in grave peril if he let his grades slip.

“Oh, he got your attention,” says former Irish defensive tackle Mike Golic, the last of three brothers to play football for the Irish. “I remember my freshman year, Mike was giving his speech to all the freshman athletes about the importance of us getting our diplomas. We knew he meant it when he slammed the sword down on his desk.”

The results are unimpeachable.

In 1988, when the Irish claimed the consensus football national championship, Notre Dame also claimed the College Football Association’s Academic Achievement Award with a 100 percent graduation rate (all 24 players who enrolled in 1982).

Between 1965 and 1987, 485 of the 490 Irish gridders who remained for four years earned a diploma. Every one of men’s basketball coach Digger Phelps’ basketball players did as well during his 20 seasons (1971–1991).

“There are entire generations of Notre Dame student-athletes, not just fencers, who will tell you that Mike played the most instrumental role in their earning their degrees,” says Harshman. “When Adrian Dantley was inducted into Notre Dame’s basketball Ring of Honor, he told the audience that the only reasons he got through Notre Dame were his mom and Mike DeCicco.”

Austin Carr, the greatest basketball player in school history, cited DeCicco when he was inducted into the Ring of Honor. Joe Montana, the most decorated NFL player to have graduated from Notre Dame, thanked DeCicco in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech.

“What made it all work,” says Parseghian, “is that Mike was both an academic and a coach. The professors trusted him and the athletes respected him. And sometimes feared him.”

if Board Ops will permit me...
by melanzana  (2023-06-27 14:45:48)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

Coach's famous threat to men was to "castrate you with a rusty sabre."


He was a legend.

If I had a dime for every interviewee who mentioned him...
by El Kabong  (2023-06-27 14:45:48)     cannot delete  |  Edit  |  Return to Board  |  Ignore Poster   |   Highlight Poster  |   Reply to Post

...I'd be a very rich man.

Austin Carr (and Collis Jones and a lot of the other guys from that era) sang Mike DeCicco's praises about giving them the tools they needed to succeed academically.