Feb. 7, 2005
The University of Notre Dame officially will mark its 10th year as a member of the BIG EAST Conference Tuesday night by joining with the league to present a series of Decade of Excellence awards to individuals who, often behind the scenes, have been integral to the success of the Irish program during that time.
Honored during the Notre Dame-Boston College men's basketball game will be former athletics director Dick Rosenthal, current assistant athletics directors Mike Danch and Tony Yelovich, sports information director Bernie Cafarelli, director of academic services for student-athletes Pat Holmes, as well as the Notre Dame band.
The BIG EAST is celebrating similar 10-year anniversaries for three of its member schools (Rutgers and West Virginia, in addition to Notre Dame) during the 2004-05 academic year. As part of this celebration, BIG EAST commissioner Michael Tranghese will be in attendance Tuesday to present commemorative awards to these recipients at various timeouts during the game at the Joyce Center.
In addition, Tranghese at halftime will recognize all of the Notre Dame head coaches who work with BIG EAST-sponsored sports for their cumulative achievements over the last 10 seasons. Tranghese and the Irish coaches and staff also will be part of a pre-game reception to recognize the honorees.
The honorees as part of the BIG EAST Decade of Excellence celebration include:
* Bernie Cafarelli -- She's in her 11th year as a member of the sports information office and her second as sports information director. She and her staff play host to the media and other guests for dozens of events each year. She joined the Notre Dame staff in 1994 following seven years as assistant director of marketing, promotions and media relations at another BIG EAST member, Providence College. Cafarelli oversees the day-to-day operation of the sports information office and media relations and publicity material for all Notre Dame Olympic sports teams. She has been a member of the Academic All-America Committee for 15 years and currently is a vice-chairman of that committee. Cafarelli received the Lester Jordan Award from the College Sports Information Directors of America in 2000 for outstanding contributions to the Academic All-America program.
* Mike Danch -- A longtime member of the Notre Dame athletic staff, Danch was promoted to assistant athletics director for facilities and game manager for football in 2000 after serving as director of athletic facilities since 1995. In this role, Danch is in charge of overseeing varsity athletics facilities, including the Joyce Center. He plays a key role in ensuring that all of Notre Dame's athletic facilities are in top shape when it comes to playing host to the dozens of home events each season. Danch took over as general manager of the Joyce Center in 1982 (holding that assignment until 1998), after serving 10 years as events manager.
* Pat Holmes -- Holmes has been the director of Notre Dame's academic services for student-athletes during the past two years, after serving the previous five years as a counselor in the office. Holmes oversees a staff of nine who provide counseling, guidance and tutoring for more than 700 student-athletes. Since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96, Notre Dame has produced one-third of the BIG EAST overall scholar-athlete awards (six of 18), with no other school producing more than two recipients during that time. When the men's and women's basketball scholar-athlete award winners are included, Notre Dame's total of recipients grows to nine (followed by Boston College with four and St. John's with three). Holmes and his staff also have overseen the academic progress of the Notre Dame student-athlete population that regularly leads the BIG EAST in Academic All-Star selections - including 244 for the 2003-04 academic year.
* Dick Rosenthal -- The Notre Dame athletics director from 1987-95 and a former two-sport standout with the Irish in basketball and baseball, Rosenthal worked diligently to create more of a national platform for all Irish athletic teams, culminating with Notre Dame's entry into the BIG EAST for most of its varsity programs. He took strides to create a winning environment for Notre Dame student-athletes - including the addition of 50 women's full scholarships and five women's varsity sports and the implementation of an athletic marketing division to promote interest in the wide range of Irish sports
* Tony Yelovich -- His 11 years as an assistant athletics director at Notre Dame have corresponded with Notre Dame's BIG EAST membership, and he has coordinated the many facets of game management for 647 varsity sporting events during the past 10 years that have involved Notre Dame serving as the host for visiting BIG EAST teams. Those events include 13 BIG EAST Championships spanning five different sports. In his role as director of Notre Dame's game management team, Yelovich has come in contact with hundreds of visiting BIG EAST coaches and thousands of the conference's student-athletes while assisting with their most basic logistical needs.
* The Notre Dame band -- Headed up by band director Ken Dye and coordinators Sam Sanchez and Lane Weaver, the Irish pep band is a staple for all kinds of Notre Dame athletic events, both home and away. They've combined with band members to add to the game-day atmosphere at dozens of Irish games, in particular basketball games at the Joyce Center.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame's current head coaches whose teams compete in the BIG EAST have combined for nearly an .800 winning percentage in BIG EAST regular-season contests (.794; 569-146-5 record). Those coaches include Bobby Clark and Randy Waldrum, respectively, in men's and women's soccer; volleyball's Debbie Brown; Mike Brey and Muffet McGraw with the respective men's and women's basketball programs; baseball's Paul Mainieri; softball's Deanna Gumpf, plus Tracy Coyne in women's lacrosse.
Notre Dame's full contingent of current head coaches has helped guide teams over 10 years in the league to 46 official BIG EAST championship titles, plus 18 regular-season titles, eight divisional crowns and one victory in the BIG EAST women's rowing challenge victory (led by coach Martin Stone). The current head coaches who have been at the helm of their teams during these 10 seasons include those listed above - plus men's team coaches Joe Piane (cross country, plus men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field), Bob Bayliss (tennis) and Tim Welsh (men's swimming), plus women's team coaches Debby King (golf), Tim Connelly (women's cross country), Bailey Weathers (swimming), Jay Louderback (tennis), along with men's and women's diving coach Caiming Xie.