Wednesday, January 24, 2007

K-Mac's Response

First, let me apologize for some lack of statistical credibility in the post after the game last night. I grabbed the stats off of CBS Sportsline right after the game ended, many of which turned out to be false (they have since been edited). I was a little tougher on Rob Kurz than I should have been and in retrospect, though the game was still a very poor effort, it was not as embarrassing as previously mentioned. Team stats: 35% shooting, uncharacteristic 60% from the line, and eight less rebounds than St. John's. Not pretty stats, but a 3 point loss is probably the best we could ask for with shooting like that.

Now to a story that really bugs me. Kyle McAlarney said in no uncertain terms, that he is "ashamed" by Notre Dame's punishment for him. I caught the headline and thought for sure that it read "McAlarney 'ashamed' about his own actions." In my morning stupor, I thought that the young man had taken responsibility for his mistake and plans to move on. How silly of me. In today's society, when does anyone take responsibility for their own actions?

Before I get too into this, I'd ask you to read Hal's comment under my post entitled "Dismissal." He talks about his own experience with ResLife and suspension from Notre Dame, an experience I have never had to go through.

Back to the story. Tom Noie, a very good sports writer, sure paints the story in McAlarney's favor, which is understandable given the interview he had with Kyle. The young man mentions things like how "[He] was 'devastated' by a ruling that will force him to withdraw from school." That is understandable and commendable. I am glad that he took Notre Dame so seriously that he feels bad having to leave.

The quotes get worse, however. "'Speaking for my family, we're very ashamed and very disappointed with how Notre Dame handled everything,' McAlarney said by cell phone Tuesday morning from a relative's home near campus. 'I did everything I could do and more, but they didn't judge me on that. A regular student would not get half the punishment that I received.'"

Save your breath. I'm not feeling sorry for you, Kyle. I truly believed that you would take the high road here and just take your punishment. I understand that you must be frustrated. It's ok to disagree with the University's reaction to your crime. However, to pretend that you are being held to a higher standard than everyone else is blatantly ridiculous. Apparently you haven't heard that just about every other drug case ends up with a semester dismissal from Notre Dame. ND is not like a public school, it's not like Boston College, it's not like any other university in the world. True, this suspension is harsh. You should have thought about your punishment before you decided to light up.

While the semester suspension doesn't come as a surprise to me, the McAlarney family seems blindsided. This is where I have some sympathy for K-Mac. He obviously was surrounded by people who told him that the disciplinary action would not be this harsh. If he was expecting better news, it is natural to be bitter. He did act respectably before this and took the indefinite suspension from basketball well. However, saying that he is being treated more harshly than others is downright false. I really hoped Kyle would rise above that.

Now to the nationwide reaction to this story. If you weren't angry about the whole story before, this should help. Gary Parrish from CBS Sportsline gives ND haters a completely new reason to dislike the Irish: the school is too harsh. Chalk that up with independent football status, too high academic standards, and not living up to its own principles. Wouldn't that last complaint be in complete contrast with this latest story? In a word, yes. Remember this classic piece of spectacular journalism? Notre Dame is held to an amazingly high standard by those in the media who apparently think the Irish should be the standard bearer for mediocrity in college athletics.

Mike Coffey is right that these kind of stories hurt Notre Dame athletics in the recruiting field. ND is classified as too harsh, too soft, too rich, or too Catholic for young athletes who want a good education. By doing the right thing, Notre Dame has hurt itself on the playing field. However, that shouldn't change a thing at the University. Where Coffey misses the point is that nothing can or should be done to fix the public perception of this story. Had McAlarney returned this year, many would cry foul due to special treatment of a star basketball player. And they would be right.

There is no win for the administration in this matter and let me be the one to stand up and applaud those involved. It would have been easy to give up a little respectability for a couple wins. Student Affairs decided to treat K-Mac just like everyone else. In that they will be criticized. It takes an extreme amount of courage to do what is right in the face of public scrutiny. They can have the simple satisfaction of sticking to the value that Notre Dame holds dear. There is plenty of resentment towards this part of the school, some warranted, but today they got it right.

To wrap things up, let me finish talking about K-Mac himself. I love seeing this guy on the basketball floor and hope to see him again very soon. While it is understandable to be upset, the classy thing would have been to disagree and move on. I hope that he does not appeal this case, which could result in his suspension being moved to the fall semester instead. Kyle made a mistake and must face the consequences. I, however, will hold nothing against him if he decides to return next year. He will be welcomed back into the fold as is his right. God bless, K-Mac, and good luck over the next few months as you put this behind you.

About his family, I am sure that they feel the same things that Kyle does. It must be even harder to watch your child go through the process. I do hope that they decide to send the young man back to South Bend. Whatever the decision may be, I hope peace and closure comes along with it.

Regarding members of the national media, I doubt anything I say can stop the relentless bashing of the University. I respectively disagree with Mike Coffey (El Kabong), though I hold him in the highest esteem as a blogger. Indeed, he is one of my inspirations for starting this blog.

And to those of you who read this post, I hope you enjoy seeing this story from my point of view. If you have any disagreements or questions, feel free to add them at the bottom. That's what the "comments" tab is for. Have a good Wednesday. Maybe tomorrow we can talk about basketball.


Anonymous said...

ND does not suspend everyone who is caught with marijuana. They have the option to do this as stated in Dulac, but do always suspend for a hefty two semesters. They gave him the harshest penalty possible in this instance. K Mac is half right in that he was held to a higher(though not unprecedented)standard.

Good point about someone giving him bad advice on calibrating his expectations for this hearing. The timing of the suspension(an hour was downright cruel(and incompetent from a PR perspective).

BlackandGreen said...

Thanks for the comments.

Not sure what you mean by suspending K-Mac for two semesters. He is dismissed for the Spring Semester with the ability to reapply in the Summer.

Also, you're right that DuLac does not specifically point out a suspension for drug use. However, in my interaction with several people involved in such cases, including one comment on this site, the vast majority of cases end up with a semester suspension.

TooEasy said...

As of now, KMac still can't apply for summer reinstatement. He's appealing the reslife decision to Fr. Jenkins and hopes to be able to get the suspension reduced to just for the spring semester.

Anonymous said...

I graduated in 1997 and emailed a couple different groups of ND friends as to what the penalty for marijuana usage/possesion for friends who were caught. I received multiple responses with names(some surprising) of people who were caught and not suspended. Unless things have changed in the last 10 years I really think that ND stuck it to KMac. I really do think that he was treated more harshly than the average student.

ND would have been much better off cutting the kid a break(suspending him from the team, but allowing him to remain in school) instead of throwing him under the bus to appear tough.

I would never come back to ND if I was treated this way.

BlackandGreen said...

Thanks tooeasy,

I stand corrected. As of right now, K-Mac's summer suspension is in limbo. A two-semester suspension is harsher than most, although students are home over the Summer.

Villanova Viewpoint Publisher said...


I am the publisher of Villanova Viewpoint ( I just finished writing a preview for the rematch in South Bend on Saturday.

Obviously, the McAlarney story played an important role in the narrative. He didn't play against VU in the first game, and so it's hard for me to assess how much of a loss he is to the team. Also, in general, if you can call attention to any elements of ND basketball that you think my VU readers would be interested in, please let me know. Conversely, if you have any Villanova-specific questions, as you get ready for the contest Saturday, I'd be happy to answer them.

Also, I just included your blog in my links section (I'm trying to collect as many as I can from the other Big East schools). If you would be willing to put mine in yours as a Villanova blog, I would appreciate it.

You can reply by either posting on my site or e-mailing me at

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Craig Dimitri

Publisher, Villanova Viewpoint

Anonymous said...

You misquoted Kyle! You said, "Kyle McAlarney said in no uncertain terms, that he is ashamed by Notre Dame's punishment for him." According to the SBT article, he actually said, "speaking for my family, we're very ashamed and very disappointed with how Notre Dame handled everything". That's a very big difference.

BlackandGreen said...

That's a good point. However, he goes on to say "I did everything I could do and more, but they didn't judge me on that. A regular student would not get half the punishment that I received." Obviously, the process was not the only thing upsetting him.

Anonymous said...

I feel for Mac, especially if he was misled into believing that he'd be back with the team.

But let's keep one thing in mind: He did something wrong. And, because he is a high-profile member of the University's community, his transgression places him in a different category.

This is not a kid caught smoking with his friends in Morrissey by his rector. This is a scholarship athlete caught by the police.

It's not a capital crime. But if ND has simply reinstated him, it would have opened itself to all manner of criticism that would only grow if the ND team did well in the tourney.

ND athletes are told explicitly that they are held to a higher standard. If the University misled Mac into believing he'd be cleared, that's a stupid, callous bungle.

But, in the end, the decision should not come as a big surprise to anyone.

As I've said in a previous post, I truly hope Mac comes back to us. I know a bit of what he's feeling, having been booted from ND myself. The best decision I ever made was to put aside my anger and embarrassment to come back to a place I love.