Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Notre Dame misses coach Willingham

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

As Notre Dame continued to search for a football coach Thursday, the former agent for the fired coach Tyrone Willingham applauded the criticism of the firing by the university's president, the Reverend Edward A. Malloy.

The former agent, Ray Anderson, who is now an executive with the Atlanta Falcons, said Thursday that Malloy and Notre Dame's athletic director, Kevin White, who also opposed Willingham's firing, knew Willingham the best.

Malloy, who will step down as president July 1, made his comments Wednesday at a sports forum in New York.

"In my 18 years, there have been only two days that I have been embarrassed to be president of Notre Dame, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, because I felt we had not abided by our precedent," Malloy said, referring to Willingham's firing.

Anderson, who negotiated Willingham's deal at Notre Dame, said Malloy and White "were really disappointed" about the firing.

"It was really refreshing to see Father Malloy's comments," Anderson said. "For someone from the university to take a stance like that shows that they made a disgraceful mistake."

Seven Notre Dame administrators met Nov. 29 to determine Willingham's coaching status. He was fired after three seasons

Malloy's assistant, Chandra Johnson, said Wednesday that she had shaved her head to protest the firing.

Anderson said he had been in touch with Willingham, who has emerged as a strong candidate to become the coach at Washington.

"I can't confirm that he's interviewed there, but by this point there has been some meaningful discussion," Anderson said.

Anderson also said that Willingham was in good spirits.

"The experience at Notre Dame was brought on by folks that didn't understand the whole picture," Anderson said.

Notre Dame was scheduled to meet with Tom Clements, the Bills' offensive coordinator Thursday night in Buffalo about its head-coaching position. Clements, a former all-American quarterback, led Notre Dame to the 1973 national championship.

He has the support of the former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian

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