Allen Pinkett punished for comments

Updated: August 31, 2012, 2:54 PM ET
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com

Allen Pinkett's controversial comments about Notre Dame have cost him the chance to broadcast the Fighting Irish's season opener Saturday in Dublin -- and possibly more.

The IMG Notre Dame Radio Network announced Pinkett's discipline in a statement Thursday afternoon.

"Allen Pinkett, a commentator on the IMG Notre Dame Radio Network who made unacceptable comments this week about student athletes, will not be part of this weekend's broadcast in Dublin," the statement said. "Don Criqui and Jeff Jeffers will handle the broadcast duties. Notre Dame taking on Navy at the Emerald Isle Classic in Dublin is an historic game showcasing the very best of American college sports. The event deserves to be free of distraction. Further decisions on this matter will be made in the coming days."

In light of the recent two-game suspensions to Cierre Wood and Justin Utupo -- on top of the earlier one-game suspensions for Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese -- Pinkett, the former Fighting Irish running back and current radio analyst, said Wednesday on "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" that Notre Dame needs a few "bad citizens" in order to win.

"I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team," Pinkett said on WSCR-AM (670). "That's how Ohio State used to win all the time. They would have two or three guys that were criminals, and that just adds to the chemistry of the team. I think Notre Dame is growing because maybe they have some guys that are doing something worthy of a suspension, which creates edge on the football team.

"You can't have a football team full of choirboys. You get your butt kicked if you've got a team full of choirboys, so you've got to have a little bit of edge. But the coach has to be the dictator and the ultimate ruler. Here's my opinion: You don't hand out suspensions unless you know you've got somebody behind that guy that can make plays."

Given a chance to back off his comments, Pinkett kept going.

"I absolutely meant that," Pinkett told the radio station. "The chemistry is so important on a football team. You have to have a couple of bad guys that sort of teeter on that edge to add to the flavor of the guys that are going to always do right because that just adds to the chemistry of the football team. You have to have ... you look at the teams that have won in the past, they have always had a couple of criminals."

During an interview Thursday with ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick emphasized that Pinkett is not an employee of the school.

"We want the people who comment on our games, whether it's on NBC or, in the case of radio, IMG College, to be independent voices, so they are hired by those media partners," Swarbrick said. "We don't have any say in their employment, initially who's employed or if sanctions are meted out at some point, we don't play a role in that.

"It's important for me to make Notre Dame's position known and express our unhappiness with what was said, but we don't have any role to play in deciding what, if any, sanctions will be imposed."

Swarbrick, who referred to Pinkett's remarks as "nonsense" in a statement Wednesday, reiterated that stance to ESPN Radio 1000.

"That sentiment not only doesn't reflect the values of Notre Dame, it doesn't have any place in college athletics," Swarbrick said. "In my statement, I said I thought it was nonsense, and I think that's an accurate description of it.

"We wouldn't be in varsity athletics at Notre Dame if that were part of what you had to do to succeed, and we have proven time and time again we can succeed with the sort of student-athletes who fit well into the fabric of the Notre Dame community. So we'll continue to pursue athletics that way because we know it's the right way to do it."

Pinkett apologized for the remarks in a statement Wednesday night.

"In reviewing my remarks from a radio interview Wednesday, it's clear that I chose my words poorly and that an apology is in order for these inappropriate comments," he said. "My words do not reflect the strong pride and passion I have for the Notre Dame football program. I am deeply sorry and did not intend to take away the focus from the upcoming season opener.

"I especially would like to offer my sincere apology to the current members of Notre Dame's football team, including Coach (Brian) Kelly, the entire Notre Dame community, the IMG College Audio Network and the Ohio State football program. As a proud Notre Dame graduate, I wish nothing but the best for our football team and the University. I understand that there may be consequences to my actions and accept whatever discipline is imposed."

Matt Fortuna | email

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