Brian Kelly grew up around politics. He campaigned for his father, an alderman in Chelsea, Mass., and worked for Gary Hart's 1984 political campaign.
Now those past associations are being criticized.
World Magazine, a publication covering religion, has questioned the wisdom of Notre Dame's hiring of Kelly.
Mark Bergin writes: "The recent hire of Brian Kelly to succeed Charlie Weis as head football coach at Notre Dame raised more than a few eyebrows among devout Catholic alumni, many of whom have helped build the school's $6 billion endowment. Kelly has a history of association with left-leaning politicians, including working for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart in 1984. Such ties have prompted some Fighting Irish faithful to wonder aloud if Kelly supports legalized abortion."
"For his part, the former Cincinnati head man claims to be a 'practicing Catholic,' who embraces 'the same values that are here at Notre Dame.' But Kelly has ducked answering whether he is pro-life, saying that he is 'pro-Notre Dame' and 'pro-football.' "
Last year, Notre Dame officials were criticized for having President Barack Obama give the commencement address. Nearly 65,000 people signed an online petition protesting Obama's appearance, saying the president's views on abortion and stem cell research contradicted Roman Catholic teachings. Twenty-two people, including former Illinois U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes, were arrested during an on-campus protest a week before Obama's address, and many students decided not to attend graduation ceremonies.
Sean O'Shea, writing for Irish Central, is defending Kelly:
"It is absolutely no one's business what private views Coach Kelly holds and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous. After all, few blinked an eye when Lou Holtz campaigned for a Republican candidate when he was head coach.
"Kelly was hired to coach football, and unless he begins proselytizing with team members that is the only standard he can be judged on. To suggest otherwise is to go against the grain of all our laws on religious freedom and freedom of expression.
"Kelly will live and die on his record. Let the priests take care of the spiritual issues. Lots of prayers to Touchdown Jesus for a successful season is the way to go."