Thursday, December 09, 2004

Shaved Head Protest at Notre Dame 

Barbara Johnson, assistant to Reverend Edward Malloy, President of Notre Dame University, is mad as hell about the firing of head football coach Tyrone Willingham, and she's not going to comb it anymore. The 50-year-old woman has shaved her head and has vowed not to grow her hair back until Notre Dame wins a national championship.

Johnson feels the process through which Willingham was fired was flawed, and that the firing of the university's first black head coach of any sport will hamper the progress of diversity on campus. Johnson is described in the AP article as "the school's highest-profile black administrator."

President Malloy, meanwhile, is also dismayed and embarrassed by the firing, and expected that Willingham would have been given more time to succeed as head coach.

This news story leaves so many questions for me.

Who was in charge of the firing decision, and why didn't the university president have any input on the decision? It appears by his statement that he wasn't even filled in on the decision before it was announced.

How is Johnson meeting her goal (what is her goal) by tying her continued baldness to the achievement of a national championship? Wouldn't the cause have been better served if she was holding out for a public forum on the hiring and firing process, or for Willingham's reinstatement? If the school wins a national championship without Willingham, won't that just validate the decision to change coaches?

Is she hoping that others will join her cause, thus creating a campus full of shaven headed woman in Indiana? Will that situation cause such embarrassment for the University that they will reconsider the decision? Why? It sounds like the man of the cloth in charge is already on her side.

I just don't get it.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:15 PM