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Just Doing His Homework

Just Doing His HomeworkTufts grad and sportswriter uncovered the inconsistencies in George O'Leary's record, leading to the resignation of the newly-hired Notre Dame football coach. Manchester, NH.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.18.01] The phone calls began innocently enough. Veteran Union Leader sportswriter and Tufts grad John Hussey was working on a column about New Hampshire native George O'Leary -- the newly appointed head coach of Notre Dame's football program. But instead of finding fond memories from local residents about the coach, Hussey uncovered one of the biggest sports stories of the year -- which ultimately led to O'Leary losing his new job just hours after accepting it.

While pulling together some extra information for his column on the coach, Hussey called several former players and coaches at the University of New Hampshire, where O'Leary's resume stated that he earned three letters as a fullback for the college's football team.

But the Tufts grad didn't quite find what he was looking for.

"Hussey, who writes the weekly 'Granite State College Notebook' column for The Sunday News, was the first to sense something was amiss after speaking with ex-UNH coach Joe Yukica and three former players Tuesday night," reported the Manchester Union Leader in a editorial explaining how they uncovered the story. "Not only didn't he remember O'Leary, Yukica told Hussey, but Bill Bowes, an assistant at UNH under Yukica .. didn't remember O'Leary either."

So he made more calls, and grew more suspicious.

"No one remembered seeing him play in a game," Hussey told the Los Angeles Times.

He spoke with his editors and an additional reporter was assigned to the quickly growing story.

"[Their work] led to a story reporting that O'Leary had provided the inaccurate information on a biographical form he'd completed three months after his hiring as a Syracuse assistant coach in 1980," reported the Times.

Within hours, Hussey's initial calls had started a chain reaction that spread across the country.

"The Union Leader's investigation sparked an inquiry at Notre Dame, which ultimately led to O'Leary's resignation late Thursday night," reported the newspaper. "It was subsequently learned that O'Leary has also lied on his resume about receiving a master's degree from New York University."

Despite the immediate national attention surrounding his work, Hussey has taken the whole thing in stride.

"I just stumbled into it," he told the Times. "It happened so fast. Tonight, I'll be back doing high school basketball games."

But his colleagues -- who affectionately call Hussey "doc" because he has a Ph. D. from Tufts in classical literature -- credit his journalistic instincts.

"I think ol' Doc smelled a rat," Union Leader Sports Editor John Tucker told the Times. "Too bad, but that's the way it goes. If you lie, and get caught, you pay the price. This case, it's a really huge price."

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