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Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick Named 2020 Recipient of NFF John L. Toner Award

by | Dec 17, 2020 | Featured, Football Blogs | 0 comments

IRVING, Texas (Dec. 17, 2020) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today Jack Swarbrick, the University of Notre Dame Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics, as the 2020 recipient of the NFF John L. Toner Award.

“Jack Swarbrick has established himself as one of the top athletics administrators in the country today with a relentless commitment to excellence and ensuring the student-athletes at Notre Dame have an educational experience that is second to none,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “Under his leadership, the traditions at Notre Dame have thrived, and he has brought a strategic focus, which has allowed the Fighting Irish to remain a powerhouse in every aspect of the college experience for the school’s student-athletes in South Bend.

“Jack Swarbrick’s exceptional leadership abilities have never been more evident than during the pandemic, and he has been one of the leaders who has worked tirelessly to provide the student-athletes in South Bend and nationwide an opportunity to play this season while ensuring their health and safety.”

Presented annually by the NFF since 1997, the John L. Toner Award recognizes athletics directors who have demonstrated superior administrative abilities and shown outstanding dedication to college athletics and particularly college football. The award is named in honor of its inaugural recipient, the late John L. Toner who was a former athletics director and football coach at Connecticut. Toner, an NCAA President from 1983-85, joined the NFF Board in 1988 and served as the vice chairman from 2000-2008.

“It is a great honor for me and Notre Dame Athletics to be recognized with the National Football Foundation’s John L. Toner Award,” said Swarbrick. “I am humbled to be added to such a distinguished list of prior recipients, including many athletic directors who I have counted among my mentors and close friends over the years. I especially appreciate that this year’s award recognizes the hard work that our staff at Notre Dame put in to ensure that our student-athletes had the opportunity to pursue their athletic dreams during a year in which so many thought that would not be possible.”

A magna cum laude graduate from Notre Dame in 1976, Swarbrick earned his law degree from Stanford in 1980 and practiced law for the next 28 years before becoming the head of the athletics department in South Bend in 2008. His tenure has seen a major $400 million renovation of Notre Dame Stadium; the hosting of major events on campus to generate revenue for the school and community; the construction of the $50 million Compton Family Ice Arena; an extension of the university’s relationship with NBC Sports through the 2025 football season; a partnership with student-athletes to advance social justice issues on campus and nationally; and a long-list of additional accomplishments that have touched every aspect of the student-athlete experience at Notre Dame.

On the football front, Swarbrick hired current coach Brian Kelly prior to the 2010 season, helping Notre Dame return as one of the elite programs in college football. While in South Bend, Kelly has won 10 games six times (2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), has completed three undefeated regular seasons and has a 32-13 record when a rivalry trophy is on the line (Navy, Southern California, Stanford, Boston College, Purdue and Michigan State). The Fighting Irish went to the BCS National Championship Game following the 2012 season and the College Football Playoff Semifinals in 2018. He also managed the $400 million expansion of the school’s 84-year-old iconic football stadium from 2014-17.

With the difficulties faced as an independent during the 2020 season, Swarbrick secured a place for Notre Dame to play a full football schedule as a one-year member in the ACC. The undefeated Irish are currently ranked in the top four in the rankings and have earned a spot in the ACC Championship Game this weekend.

“Jack Swarbrick has been a real trailblazer throughout his time in South Bend and especially this year during the pandemic,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He jumped in with the testing protocols. He worked hard to address the scheduling challenges, and his efforts have ensured student-athletes in South Bend have gotten a chance to not only play but compete at the highest level this fall. We salute him for all he has accomplished during the past 13 years in South Bend and especially in 2020.”

Jack Swarbrick – Bio and Notre Dame Career Highlights

John B. “Jack” Swarbrick Jr., a University of Notre Dame graduate now in his 13th year in 2020-21 as Vice President and James E. Rohr Director of Athletics at his alma mater, has attached his signature to a variety of new initiatives during his tenure:

Creating the STAND TOGETHER movement in conjunction with Notre Dame student-athletes, an equality initiative developed to create change locally and to be a catalyst for change nationally as it relates to social justice. Promoted Angie Torain to the newly created position of Senior Associate Athletics Director for Culture, Diversity and Engagement to lead the department in these initiatives.
Launching of Fighting Irish Media — a major enterprise that delivers better information about and access to Notre Dame and its athletic programs via expanded production and distribution of programming.
Developing a plan for expanding Notre Dame Stadium in order to make it a year-round asset for the University, while also improving the gameday experience for student-athletes and fans.
That initiative became reality with the 2014 announcement of the Campus Crossroads Project that added new structures to three sides of Notre Dame’s home football facility—creating new homes for student activities and recreation, career services, digital media, as well as academic disciplines anthropology, psychology, music and sacred music.
Hosting of major events to generate revenue for the campus and community. Since 2018 Notre Dame has hosted a Garth Brooks’ concert in Notre Dame Stadium (October 2018), the NHL Winter Classic in Notre Dame Stadium (January 2019), the 2019 U.S. Senior Open at the Warren Golf Course (June 2019) and an international soccer match between Liverpool and Dortmund in Notre Dame Stadium (July 2019).
Building of student-athlete programs to develop leadership skills, increase community service and provide mentoring and career services resources.
Meeting the performance needs of Notre Dame student-athletes through establishment of a sports performance division to support and improve athletic performance through the application of science, medicine and technology.
Creating systems and structures to maximize the impact of technical expertise, environments, technology and service delivery on an athlete’s ability to optimize performance.

Over the past several years, Swarbrick played a major role in significant announcements that positively impacted Notre Dame on the national collegiate scene:

The 2019 launch of the ACC Network on ESPN – a comprehensive linear and digital network that will give fans access to more than 600 exclusive live events from across the conference via a linear channel within the ESPN family of networks and a digital live-events channel – ACC Network Extra.
Membership for Notre Dame’s men’s ice hockey program in the Big Ten Conference that began with the 2017-18 season. The Irish joined Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin to form a seven-team hockey conference. Notre Dame won Big Ten titles in each of its first two seasons in the league.
Membership for Notre Dame’s athletic teams (other than football and hockey) in the Atlantic Coast Conference that began with the 2013-14 athletic seasons. In football, Notre Dame plays five games per year against ACC opponents and has full access to the league’s list of postseason bowl options.
An extension of the University’s relationship with NBC Sports through the 2025 football season.
The 2014 announcement of an unmatched 10-year relationship with Under Armour that provides performance footwear, apparel and equipment for Irish athletic programs. In addition to being a shareholder in Under Armour, Notre Dame collaborates with Under Armour in the areas of sport technology, product development and athlete performance.
Creation by the Bowl Championship Series of the four-team College Football Playoff, which started with the 2014 season, with Notre Dame maintaining viable access into that system.

Swarbrick’s tenure has featured a variety of on-and off-the-field Notre Dame athletics successes:

Innovative athletics partnership with Legends and JMI Sports — two of the leading athletics marketing and hospitality companies in the country — to oversee Notre Dame’s sales, marketing, hospitality, media rights and branding services on a local and national level. The University, through this 12-year agreement, seeks to create and implement unique programs and partnerships with an elite group of companies and brands — delivering unprecedented levels of engagement, first-class hospitality experiences and recognition.
NCAA championships in 2018 in women’s basketball and fencing (a men’s and women’s combined championship), 2017 in fencing (a men’s and women’s combined championship), 2013 in men’s soccer, 2011 in fencing (a men’s and women’s combined championship) and 2010 in women’s soccer.
BCS National Championship selection in 2012 following an undefeated 12-0 regular season and a College Football Playoff semifinalist in 2018 after an undefeated 12-0 regular season.
NCAA runner-up team finishes in 2018 in men’s hockey, 2019, 2015, 2014, 2012 and 2011 in women’s basketball, 2014 and 2010 in men’s lacrosse, 2013 and 2009 in fencing and 2008 in women’s soccer.
NCAA semifinal appearances in women’s basketball in 2013, men’s lacrosse in 2012 and 2015, hockey in 2011 and 2017, women’s tennis in 2009 and 2010, and women’s soccer in 2009, plus 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2019 third-place fencing finishes.
Only men’s basketball program in the nation to register NCAA Elite Eight appearances in both 2015 and 2016
Individual NCAA championships in in 2019 by Nick Itkin (fencing-men’s foil), the track and field-distance medley relay team, Yared Nuguse (track and field-1,500 meter run), 2018 by Nick Itkin (fencing-men’s foil); 2017 by Lee Kiefer (fencing-women’s foil), Francesca Russo (fencing-women’s sabre); 2016 by Molly Seidel (indoor track and field-3,000 meters, 5,000 meters); 2015 by Lee Kiefer (fencing-foil), Francesca Russo (fencing-women’s sabre) and Molly Seidel (cross country; track and field-10,000 meters); 2014 by Gerek Meinhardt (fencing-foil), Lee Kiefer (fencing-foil) and Emma Reaney (women’s swimming-200 yard breaststroke); 2013 by Courtney Hurley (fencing-epee) and Lee Kiefer (fencing-foil); 2012 by the track and field distance medley relay team; 2011 by Ariel DeSmet (fencing-foil) and Courtney Hurley (fencing-epee); and 2010 by Gerek Meinhardt (fencing-foil).
403 All-America selections and 66 Academic All-America honorees.

Born in Yonkers, New York, and raised in Yonkers and Bloomington, Indiana, Swarbrick is a 1976 magna cum laude graduate of Notre Dame, with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Upon graduating from Stanford University Law School in 1980, he accepted a position as an associate in the Indianapolis law firm Baker & Daniels. He was made partner in 1987 and spent 28 years with the firm. Swarbrick became Notre Dame’s 12th athletics director on July 16, 2008. He and his wife, Kimberly, are the parents of four children: Kate, a 2010 graduate of Saint Louis University; Connor, a 2011 graduate of Wake Forest University; Cal, a 2014 graduate of TCU; and Christopher, a 2015 graduate of Notre Dame.

Recipients of the NFF John L. Toner Award include:

2020 – Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame)
2019 – Deborah Yow (Saint Louis, Maryland, NC State)
2018 – Thomas Beckett (Yale)
2018 – Bob Scalise (Harvard)
2017 – Dan Guerrero (Cal State Dominguez Hills, California-Irvine, UCLA)
2016 – Chet Gladchuk (Tulane, Boston College, Houston, Navy)
2015 – Mark Hollis (Michigan State)
2014 – Kevin White (Loras [IA], Maine, Tulane, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Duke)
2013 – Joe Castiglione (Missouri, Oklahoma)
2012 – Mal Moore (Alabama)
2010 – Robert E. Mulcahy III (Rutgers)
2009 – Jim Weaver (UNLV, Western Michigan, Virginia Tech)
2008 – Gene Smith (Eastern Michigan, Iowa State, Arizona State, Ohio State)
2007 – Jeremy Foley (Florida)
2006 – DeLoss Dodds (Kansas State, Texas)
2005 – Jack Lengyel (Fresno State, Missouri, Navy)
2004 – Vince Dooley (Georgia)
2003 – John Clune (Air Force)
2003 – Andy Geiger (Brown, Penn, Stanford, Maryland, Ohio State)
2002 – Bill Byrne (Oregon, Nebraska, Texas A&M)
2001 – Milo R. “Mike” Lude (Kent State, Washington, Auburn)
2000 – Frank Broyles (Arkansas)
1999 – Jake Crouthamel (Syracuse)
1999 – David M. Nelson (Delaware)
1998 – Doug Dickey (Tennessee)
1997 – John L. Toner (Connecticut)