Notre Dame president ‘disappointed’ students stormed field after beating Clemson

Jesse Pantuosco
November 09, 2020 - 10:59 am

Notre Dame enjoyed arguably its biggest victory of the school’s Brian Kelly Era Saturday in South Bend, knocking off top-ranked Clemson in an overtime thriller that delayed Dave Chappelle’s SNL monologue by almost a half hour. The win, which vaulted the Fighting Irish to second in this week’s AP poll (Alabama received all but three first-place votes), was unfortunately marred by Notre Dame’s widely-criticized post-game celebration, which included legions of ecstatic students storming the field.

While it’s never recommended, there is some precedent for home fans rushing the field, usually after pulling off a major upset or defeating a hated rival. Whether Saturday met the criteria needed to be classified as an “upset” (Clemson was playing without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence) is up for debate, but what’s not is the brashness of 11,000 Irish diehards throwing social distancing out the window amid the deadliest global pandemic of our lifetime.

To students’ credit, most of them appeared to be wearing masks, but Saturday’s stunt still didn’t sit well with school president Reverend John I. Jenkins, who released this sternly-worded statement the following day:

In response to Saturday’s nationally-televised slip-up, Notre Dame has vowed to enforce much stricter protocols to combat the virus, requiring mandatory COVID testing for anyone leaving campus (students who don’t comply could be subject to a registration hold) while continuing to crack down on unsanctioned social gatherings.

“As exciting as last night’s victory against Clemson was, it was very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend,” expressed Jenkins. “Our football team showed us how to finish strong on Saturday night. Please finish this semester strong by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands and completing your daily health check.”

Notre Dame, which is competing in the ACC for the first time (the Irish have historically been a football independent), is allowing fans to attend games at 20-percent capacity this season. Tailgating outside the stadium is strictly prohibited.

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