Missy Conboy is doing what no woman has done before: running Notre Dame's athletic department.
How long that lasts is uncertain. Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins appointed Conboy on an interim basis in the wake of Kevin White's resignation as athletic director to take the same job at Duke.
Conboy has been deputy athletic director under White for the last three years. She also spent 11 years as associate athletic director and five years as assistant athletic director. She played basketball at Notre Dame from 1979 to 1982.
Conboy is the sport administrator for volleyball, women's tennis, men's swimming, men's and women's fencing and rowing. She oversees the athletic department's legal affairs. She has previously overseen the university's NCAA compliance and event management.
“As a member of our senior leadership team in athletics for the past 20 years, Missy has vast experience in the areas of personnel, compliance and sports administration,” Jenkins said in a release. “I look forward to working closely with her during this time of transition.”
Possible permanent replacements with Irish ties include Gene Smith, the current Ohio State athletic director who is a former Notre Dame assistant football coach and a defensive end on the Irish's 1973 national title team; Bob Minnix, the senior associate athletic director at Washington State, former director of enforcement for the NCAA and a former Irish running back in the early 1970s; and Rick Chryst, Mid-American Conference commissioner and a former Notre Dame basketball player in the early 1980s.
“While there is no specific timeline for identifying a successor,” Jenkins said, “I can assure Irish fans our process will be thorough and that we will take the foundation currently in place and build upon it to achieve even greater success.”
White, who took the Duke job over the weekend, was the driving force behind Notre Dame's $26 million renovation of the Joyce Center, as well as most of the athletic facilities. He also boosted the non-revenue sports programs.
During White's eight years, the Irish won national titles in women's basketball (2001), fencing (2003 and 2005) and women's soccer (2004). The baseball team reached the 2002 College World Series. The hockey team made the Final Four in April.
The commitment to academic excellence included having all 26 athletic programs achieve at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the 2005-2006 season.
White hired basketball coach Mike Brey, who has led Notre Dame to five NCAA tourneys in eight seasons.
Criticism centered on football. White extended coach Bob Davie's contract in 2000, then fired him the next season. He replaced Davie with George O'Leary, who resigned less than a week later for lying about his academic and athletic past.
He hired Tyrone Willingham, then fired him after three seasons. He hired current coach Charlie Weis, then gave him a long-term extension before Weis completed his first season.
Overall in football, the Irish had four winning seasons and went to three BCS bowls (losing all three) during White's stay.
“Kevin has set the table for success on and off the field in all of our sports,” Weis said in a university release.