Imagine that you are a workplace supervisor.
Now imagine that one of the employees you are responsible for overseeing is killed on the job as a result of your gross negligence.
Think you’d still be employed?
Unless we learn of facts that point to the contrary, it is difficult for me to think that Brian Kelly should deserve to keep his job as Notre Dame’s head football coach in the wake of the tragic death of student filmographer Declan Sullivan. The sheer lack of common sense and responsibility on the part of the adults in charge who let a 20-year-old stand 50 feet above the ground in a scissor lift in 50 MPH winds is among the most dumbfounding things I have ever encountered in my life. And I’ve encountered my fair share of befuddling stupidity.
There is an investigation ongoing, and obviously that will have to bear itself out before Notre Dame can make any decisions. But barring some sort of cover-up — not that an institution associated with the Catholic Church would ever stoop to such a level — I imagine the facts will shed a great deal of culpability on Kelly.
Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for every aspect of planning a football practice. And this was not some freak medical incident where a kid collapsed due to a seizure or heart murmur that no one could see coming. This is one of the most easily preventable accidents I’ve ever heard of. There were wind advisories all over the Great Lakes region calling this the most severe low-pressure system in 70 years. There are several places where whole trees were blown over at the trunk. To send a human up in a flimsy apparatus in those conditions is sheer madness. The chilling Twitter messages posted by Sullivan before his death emphasize that clearly — “Wind gusts up to 60 mph… Guess I’ve lived long enough” and “This is terrifying.”
Of course, someone below Kelly on the Notre Dame staff will probably serve as the fall guy in this case. The filming of practice is not something “directly” in the head coach’s realm of responsibility. But anyone with a brain on their shoulders had to have realized that sending Sullivan up there was not a good idea. If lying on your resume is a fireable offense as Notre Dame coach, this sure as hell has to be one too.
Ultimately, it comes down to this — every year, Kelly must visit the families of recruits and convince them to entrust their sons to him for the next four to five years.
After an incident like this, what parent could possibly do so?
Thus, Brian Kelly must go. He’s not a bad guy, nor a bad coach. But he allowed for a scenario that greatly increased the odds of this terrible situation to take place, and someone has to pay for it.