Few colleges in the nation have the rich history and tradition of Notre Dame. Located in South Bend, Indiana, the university was founded by French-born priest Edward F. Sorin, who sought to build a "great Catholic university in America".
During Notre Dame's century-long success in college football, questions about the link between athletics and religion have always been present as well. Does the school only recruit Catholic athletes, or are players from all faiths welcome to play football?
Catholicism and Football's History
As previously mentioned, Notre Dame and Catholicism are inseparable from each other. The university is possibly the most famous Catholic institution in America, but to many, the school is most synonymous with gridiron glory.
For American Catholics, the football team's winning ways represented something bigger than national titles, even for those who weren't even alums. The team gave a religious minority that was often socially outcast a sense of pride and honor. During the mid-20th century, so-called "Subway Alums" began to pop up in cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. These fans had never graduated or attended Notre Dame, let alone stepped foot on campus, but rallied behind the university's religious identity.
On the field, recruiters for Notre Dame have long looked towards Catholic high schools for the next wave of Fighting Irish talent. Many of the university's legendary players, such as Alan Page, Paul Hornung, and Dave Casper, came from Catholic high schools. However, other stars have been recruited from the public school ranks, including Joe Montana, Jerome Bettis, Rocket Ismail, and Tim Brown.
Finding talented players from every corner of the country, in spite of high academic standards, is something the Irish pride themselves on. This is not defined solely by location, but faith as well. With rigid guidelines in place as far as grade point average and personal conduct, Notre Dame's football recruiters value character, not personal beliefs.
Faith On and Off the Field
While Notre Dame admits students of all faiths and varying backgrounds, just 18