Hornung, Notre Dame, and Affirmative Action

Hornung Regrets Remarks About Notre Dame

Former Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung expressed regret Wednesday for saying his alma mater, Notre Dame, needed to lower its academic standards to “get the black athlete.”

“We can’t stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we’ve got to get the black athlete,” Hornung said. “We must get the black athlete if we’re going to compete.”

Affirmative Action Connection?

Obviously, this sort of comment offends people. Hornung was “flooded with telephone calls from friends and media” after his radio interview in which he said that standards had to be lowered to make sure black athletes would be able to play on the school’s football team.

But isn’t this pretty much the same thing affirmative action does – lowers the standards for minorities so they “have a chance at getting in”? Although Hornung’s motivation was to improve the football team and he didn’t promote lowering standards only for minority applicants, he made it clear that minorities, specifically black athletes, were the reason the standards should be lowered. If it is offensive for him to say that black people won’t be able to get in to play football unless standards are lowered, isn’t it offensive to say that minority applicants can’t get in if they are held to the “white” standard?

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