Yes yes, we’re the meanies again. Same as it ever was.
Folks are now getting upset because people on our restricted football board, Rock’s House, are discussing the possible connections between Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick and the scandal currently overwhelming the United States Gymnastics program and its tolerance of a serial sexual predator in their medical staff. As the investigation continues and expands, Michigan State University, who employed Nassar, is finding itself a target of further investigation, and people are concerned Notre Dame, thanks to Jack Swarbrick’s history with US Gymnastics, may get dragged into this maelstrom.
This analysis is not sitting well with some folks. We wouldn’t care about this if Notre Dame football won more games, they say. There’s no evidence of a connection so we shouldn’t be saying anything, they claim. We’re feeding the media and getting Notre Dame into trouble, they bleat.
Speaking for myself,my opinion about all this is best summarized by Admiral Painter:
If anyone actually believes Swarbrick’s involvement in all this would be completely unknown yet for some comments on a message board, calling you dumber than a box of hair would be an insult to hair. The man’s resume is all over the Internet, and chances are it’s already been noticed by people who’s actual job it is to look at these things. This vortex is only getting larger and more hysterical, and everyone even peripherally involved is going to be swept up into it. Sooner or later, the actions of US Gymnastics’ General Counsel(s) will be called into question, with people wondering what they knew and when they knew it, and that’s going to happen whether people post or not.
If Notre Dame is smart, they’re getting D’ed up. If Notre Dame is smart, they’re already asking these questions and finding solid answers, not sitting in a corner with eyes and ears covered and fingers crossed hoping no one notices them. Waiting until the tsunami hits is not the time to head to high ground, especially if the sirens are already going off.
Trouble is, I have little evidence of their capabilities here. Forgive me if recent past performance doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies that the Dome is getting out in front of this. Their handling of matters like Declan Sullivan, Lizzie Seeburg, and the recent academic scandals on the football team, don’t lend confidence that when the real investigators come, they’ll be prepared.
I’m not a fan of Jack Swarbrick, and I’ve never tried to pretend otherwise. But my fervent hope here is there was no involvement on his part. Because if he becomes a part of this investigation — and if his name is on those case files the Indianapolis Star is pursuing via FOIA, you can be damn sure he will be — even though he wasn’t an employee at the time, Notre Dame gets involved in the investigation, and who knows what collateral damage will result?
Need an example? Fine. Let’s talk about Jack’s Notre Dame biography page. As chronicled in the synopsis linked above, at one point, that biography lauded his work for US Gymnastics in the list of accomplishments prior to his employment. But at some point between late 2013 and mid 2015 — which, if you read the Nassar timeline, is when MSU’s president was notified of a sexual assault complaint against him — that information was removed from the biography.
Perhaps not a big deal, bios get updated all the time. But let me ask this the way an actually empowered investigator will: What was the decision process leading up to that change?
Was it Swarbrick tasking an intern with changing the biography? That’s on him and he did it for whatever reasons he did it.
Or was it the result of a discussion between Swarbrick and other people at Notre Dame? Whether it was just to avoid “bad optics” or whatever, that smells like something a lot more. And even the smell can cause Notre Dame a lot of headache and heartache. Just ask Tom Izzo.
Get pissed at the site all you want. There’s no whole-cloth fabrication here — we’re looking at facts and very very worried about consequences. Dislike for Swarbrick is completely irrelevant. Notre Dame is on the tracks and a train is coming. They either need to know how to stop that train or get the hell off the tracks.