Former ND Coach Digger Phelps talks post ESPN plans - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Former ND Coach Digger Phelps talks post ESPN plans


Digger Phelps made a rule for himself: do something for 20 years and then move on. He has more than demonstrated his ability to stick to that rule. Phelps coached the Notre Dame men's basketball team for 20 years from 1971-1991.  

"I've always said life is nothing but decades. Your first two decades you get a credential and then that third decade from 20 to 30 you have to make your dream become a reality," he said.  

His dream was to coach at Notre Dame and he did more than that in his time. He led the men's Fighting Irish team to the only Final Four appearance in the program's history. Once his 20 year mark was hit, he decided it was time to move on.  

After retiring from coaching, Phelps would do some TV work before being hired by ESPN. Phelps says ESPN approached him after the passing of fellow coach and friend Jim Valvano. Phelps was great friends with the Valvano family and that is one of the reasons he decided to become an analyst for the network.  He made it clear though that he could not be Jim Valvano.  "I'm not going to scream and yell like Jimmy and Ditka.  I've just got to be who I am, which obviously turned out," he said.  

Phelps hit 20 years as a TV analyst and announced his retirement from ESPN during the men's National Championship game on April 7. He has returned to his home in South Bend where he has lived for the last 43 years.  It is in South Bend where the next 20 year vision will take place.  Phelps wants to make the area a better and safer place.  He attributes the crime in the area to the lack of education of children in South Bend.  

"I think you can target these gang kids sort of speak or any of these guys that are now young men because they drop out of school because they can't do the math can't do the science." 

Phelps stressed that students need to be taught in a way that they understand there are options for them.  He says this is the key to reducing crime and drug activity because the youth of the area will grow up with options to keep them from bad habits.  

Phelps' career with ESPN may be over but that doesn't necessarily mean it is the last time you will see the former Notre Dame Coach talking college basketball. "Now that I've given up college basketball with ESPN, that doesn't mean I've given up college basketball." 

Phelps says that work with CBS Sports, the Big Ten Network or other channels that broadcast college basketball is a possibility.

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