Originally created 12/15/01

O'Leary resigns over lies



SOUTH BEND, Ind. - George O'Leary built his career as a football coach on lies. Only five days after getting the job he always wanted, his past finally caught up with him at Notre Dame.

Mr. O'Leary stunned and embarrassed the nation's most storied program by resigning, admitting Friday he had falsified his academic and athletic credentials for decades.

He claimed to have a master's degree in education and to have played college football for three years, but checks into his background showed those statements were not true.

"Many years ago, as a young married father, I sought to pursue my dream as a football coach," he said in a statement released by Notre Dame. "In seeking employment I prepared a resume that contained inaccuracies regarding my completion of course work for a master's degree and also my level of participation in football at my alma mater. These misstatements were never stricken from my resume or biographical sketch in later years."

The 55-year-old former Georgia Tech coach signed a six-year contract Saturday night and was introduced to the media and public Sunday.

He promised to turn around an Irish program that had become mediocre in five years under Bob Davie, fired Dec. 2 after the Irish posted a 5-6 record after an 0-3 start. Mr. Davie's 35-25 record gave him the third-worst winning percentage in Irish history.

By Friday, though, Mr. O'Leary himself was history.

"Due to a selfish and thoughtless act many years ago, I have personally embarrassed Notre Dame, its alumni and fans," Mr. O'Leary said.

"The integrity and credibility of Notre Dame is impeccable, and with that in mind, I will resign my position as head football coach," Mr. O'Leary's statement said. His resignation was effective Thursday.

News of the resignation jolted the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic university, which has used its history of football success to help it become one of the nation's premiere schools. Students studying for finals said they were embarrassed.

"It makes us look very silly that we have suffered through Bob Davie, found a coach that wasn't necessarily at the top of our priority list, and then this coach resigns over dishonesty," said Todd Engstrom, a chemistry junior from Spokane, Wash.

Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White said Mr. O'Leary's admission made it impossible for him to continue as Notre Dame coach.

"I understand that these inaccuracies represent a very human failing; nonetheless, they constitute a breach of trust that makes it impossible for us to go forward with our relationship," Mr. White said in a statement. He was not available to talk to reporters Friday.



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