ND #1 on and off the football field - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

ND #1 on and off the football field

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The Irish are number one. Both on and off the field.

"We're not just here for athletics," says John Heisler, Associate Athletic Director.

Saturday's win over Wake Forest put the Irish football team first place in the BCS, combine that with the team's high graduation success rate and the school is making history.

"For all those people who think you can't combine athletics at the highest level and academics at the highest level, I think this proves otherwise," says Heisler.

Out of the 120 schools at college's football's top level, Notre Dame is the first EVER to be 1st in the BCS poll and have the highest graduation success rate. It's an accomplishment that Tricia Bellia, athletic representative says doesn't come easy, starting when a student applies for ND.

"We're going to make sure we don't admit a student athlete that won't succeed here," says Bellia.

"We have to have a commitment from the athletic department and coaching staff that they will emphasize the need for success in the classroom," says Bellia.

She says this could mean changing the football team's traveling schedule, since university policy only allows for three missed classes in a Monday-Wednesday-Friday sequence, but the efforts have paid off.

"As long as the NCAA measure has been in place, we've been consistently very high," says Bellia.

While ND may be new to the BCS number one ranking, the football team has ranked highest in graduation success rate for the past four years.

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