Joyce says he's sympathetic to the idea that increased support could make other sports do better and perhaps make money, but he's not inclined to wait too long for it to happen. In 1980 hockey was promoted heavily for the first time and it drew nice crowds. But at the end of the year it had nevertheless lost $123,000, and in 1981 its wings were clipped. The Notre Dame hockey team now competes in a "bus league," in which it doesn't have to fly to away games. Joyce is hopeful that women's basketball "will prove revenue-producing," and in 1980 granted $220,000 a year to run that program. But he admits if it were field hockey "such an expense would be unconscionable."
Joyce is correct, of course, when he says a university can have a "satisfactory athletic program without being expensive." He's justifiably proud that Notre Dame supports 28 intramural sports and 11 club sports. These are never revenue-producing. The profits from varsity football cover the expense. Moreover, it wouldn't be very practical to throw fistfuls of money into sports that might color the bottom line red. You have to call a halt somewhere. Lavishly endowed Ivy League schools "can afford a million-dollar loss in athletics," says Joyce, "but Notre Dame can't."
Notre Dame doesn't have to. Its football team has been on network television 71 times. It has been the subject of more than 50 books. Its appeal has been instrumental in the formation of 164 Notre Dame Alumni Clubs. It continues to be the linchpin for the entire Notre Dame athletic program, and the promulgator of the Notre Dame image that makes the school's endowment drives so much easier.
Notre Dame? Father Joyce was right in issuing his challenge. It tells us something worth listening to. I remember a full-page ad from TIME magazine that ran midway through the second decade of the Hesburgh-Joyce administration. Taking up half the ad was a picture of a football. Under the football was a caption: "If that's all you know about Notre Dame, you have a lot to learn." That is clearly the truth.