Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, has admitted responsibility in the death of student Declan Sullivan but defended coach Brian Kelly from recent accusations.
He also anounced that a safety expert will conduct a thorough investigation.
He was writing to Notre Dame staff, students and alumni
" Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe. We at Notre Dame — and ultimately I, as President — are responsible. "Words cannot express our sorrow to the Sullivan family and to all involved." Jenkins wrote
"I am committed to determining why this accident happened and to ensuring the safety of our students. We have been conducting an internal investigation to examine this accident from every possible perspective and to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations for the future.
In order to ensure that our inquiry has been thorough, unbiased and accurate, I have asked Dr. Peter Likins, former President of the University of Arizona, to provide an external review of our inquiry, and he has graciously accepted.
In selecting someone to review our investigation, I sought an individual experienced in higher education, with an impeccable reputation for integrity, intellect and independence. In Dr. Likins, we are fortunate to have just such a man. He brings numerous credentials to this assignment: as a world-renowned engineer; as a university administrator who served as provost at Columbia and president at Lehigh and Arizona; as a highly regarded member of numerous NCAA committees; and as a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.
Investigations and external reviews such as this take time, but I assure you that, when complete, we will issue a public report on the outcome, including information on the events of the afternoon of Oct. 27, any institutional ramifications, and recommendations for safety policies in the future."
Jenkins tood by coach Brian Kelly over the incident which occurred when the hydraulic lift Sullivan was standing on collapsed and he plunged to his death while taping football practice.
"Finally, in light of what I believe to be unfounded and unfair commentary and speculation, I want to say something about Coach Brian Kelly. Coach Kelly was hired not only because of his football expertise, but because we believed his character and values accord with the highest standards of Notre Dame.
All we have seen since he came to Notre Dame, and everything we have learned in our investigation to date, have confirmed that belief. For those reasons I am confident that Coach Kelly has a bright future leading our football program."