Notre Dame named Marcus Freeman as their newest head coach, making him the second Black head coach in the team’s history.
ESPN reported that according to an announcement made by the school on December 3, Freeman was introduced on Monday, December 6, during a news conference and will coach the Irish in their upcoming bowl game.
Freeman was initially in charge of the team’s self-defense during his first season and replaced Brian Kelly. The latter left Notre Dame to take over as Louisiana State University’s head coach earlier this week.
“It is an honor to be named the head coach of Notre Dame Football,” Freeman said in a statement. “I am eternally grateful to both Father [John] Jenkins and [athletic director] Jack Swarbrick for giving me the opportunity to lead the exceptional men who make this program what it is. Notre Dame is a very special place, and I look forward to pursuing a national championship with the most outstanding student-athletes, coaches, and staff in college football.”
Notre Dame shared a video on social media of Freeman being introduced as head coach to the team during their workout.
— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) December 3, 2021
Athletic director Swarbrick also gave a statement only a few hours after a meeting in which Kelly said that he was leaving the team and said that Notre Dame would be going through extensive research for their next coach.
After a short time, the team decided and officially named Freeman as the new coach.
“Marcus’ ability to connect with people, his fit at Notre Dame, and the way he coaches young men set him apart as we went through our search process,” Swarbrick said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see how the culture created by these remarkable student-athletes continues to grow under the tutelage of Marcus and his staff.”
Freeman is a former linebacker at Ohio State and had a position as an assistant with Kentucky State University and Purdue University before becoming the defensive coordinator for Luke Fickell’s staff at Cincinnati University and eventually Notre Dame.
According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2001, Tyrone Willingham was the first Black head coach in any sport at Notre Dame.
At the time, Willingham replaced the former coach George O’Leary, who quit the job five days after taking the position and was caught for lying on his resume about his academic and athletic accolades.
However, Willingham’s career with Notre Dame was short-lived. In 2004 he was fired after only three seasons and three years remaining on his original contract. His lack of progress for the team led to his termination, as the team was losing more games with him as a coach.