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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 22, 2004

Notre Dame expects to remain independent

Advertiser Staff

Notre Dame expects to remain a college football independent, but that doesn't mean it won't continue to evaluate whether a conference membership might eventually make more sense, an official will tell alumni and fans in Hawai'i this week.

John Heisler, senior associate athletic director for the Fighting Irish, is in town for speeches tonight and tomorrow night to Notre Dame Club of Hawai'i gatherings on Maui and O'ahu.

In the past two years, the Big Ten, Big East and Atlantic Coast Conferences have approached the Fighting Irish about giving up their traditional independence in football. Notre Dame competes in the Big East in other sports.

Heisler, who has spent more than a quarter-century on the South Bend, Ind., campus, said, "Independence is not something we would walk away from very easily. The commitment is still there to think we can be an independent in football and be a success as an independent."

Despite not having finished in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll since 1993, he said, "we've never been more committed to being more successful in football than we are now."

But, Heisler said, "when you look at the changing landscape and see what happens with the Big East, ACC and Conference USA, I don't know that it makes any sense to bury your head in the sand."

Heisler said, "it is like any other business, keep looking at what's going on in your world and try to make good decisions."

Hawai'i has played Notre Dame twice in football at Aloha Stadium, losing 48-42 in 1991 and 23-22 in 1997. A third game, scheduled for 2001, was canceled by the Fighting Irish.

Heisler said Notre Dame is evaluating its scheduling philosophy for the future and it might be difficult for the Fighting Irish to return here, especially if the school goes ahead with plans to play a heavier home schedule. Notre Dame is considering getting away from a traditional home-and-home schedule and playing at least seven of its 11 games at home

Notre Dame can gross more than $4 million for each home game on ticket sales alone.