Hornung: Notre Dame 'Must Get the Black Athlete'

Former Notre Dame great Paul Hornung may have landed in some hot water when discussing how the Irish can improve their football fortunes.

Hornung told Detroit's AM-1270 The Sports Station (an ESPN radio affiliate) on Tuesday that Notre Dame must ease up on its academic restrictions because "We gotta get the black athlete," he said. "We must get the black athlete if we're going to compete."

Hornung said that Notre Dame's schedule factors into his opinion.

"You can't play that type of schedule," Hornung said. "We're playing eight bowl teams next year ... and it's always year in and year out ... one of the toughest schedules.

"You can't play a schedule like that unless you have the black athlete today. You just can't do it, and it's very, very tough, still, to get into Notre Dame. They just don't understand it, yet they want to win."

Hornung also added that Notre Dame, which in January signed a new five-year agreement with NBC to televise its home football games, probably will lose the contract -- worth about $9 million annually -- if the school doesn't start winning more games.

Last season, Notre Dame finished at 5-7, the third losing season in five years -- something that had never happened in the storied history of the program.

The losing season contributed to low ratings on NBC -- just a 2.4 rating per game, tied with 2001 for the lowest in the school's 13 years on the network.

Hornung is the only Heisman Trophy winner to play for a losing team: His 1956 Notre Dame team went 2-8.