Man guilty of threatening ex-Irish coach Willingham

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A Florida man has pleaded guilty to a
misdemeanor charge of leaving a threatening telephone message for
then-Notre Dame football coach Tyrone Willingham, saying he was
drunk when he did it.

Andrew French, 26, of Fort Myers, Fla., pleaded guilty Wednesday
in exchange for the government dismissing a felony charge against
him for the November 2003 message left on Willingham's voice mail
while he was still coach at Notre Dame.

French said in court that he was drunk and under peer pressure
when he made the call. French said he did not use good judgment and
said "terrible things" during the 4 a.m. call, including using
racially charged terms about Willingham, now the coach at
Washington, and threatening to burn a cross in the coach's yard.

French admitted to a charge of interfering with Willingham's
ability to enjoy his employment because of threats of harm related
to his race or color.

French told U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Christopher
Nuechterlein he did not remember making the call after it occurred
but had listened to the tape twice.

"It makes me sick to think I did it," he said.

French has taken part in a pretrial diversion program for about
18 months. Nuechterlein took the guilty plea under advisement,
giving French until July 19 to withdraw the plea. If he does not
withdraw the plea, French faces a maximum penalty of up to a year
in jail and a fine up to $250,000.

The Associated Press left a message at Washington's sports
information department seeking comment from Willingham.