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Brian Kelly: Prince Shembo not threatened into silence on Lizzy Seeberg case

Prince Shembo Getty Images

Last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, former Notre Dame linebacker Prince Shembo acknowledged for the first time publicly that he was the Irish football player involved in the sexual assault allegations made by a Saint Mary’s College student who ended up committing suicide back in 2010.  Shembo also stated that the university did not want him to speak on the matter, even as rumors of his alleged involvement with the victim, Lizzie Seeberg, were swirling across Internet message boards.

Suffice to say, Shembo’s former head coach has a different view as to how the situation played out.

Speaking ahead of the start of spring practice, Brian Kelly stated it was a “collaborative” decision for Shembo, who was never charged in connection to the alleged rape, to stay silent on the allegations.  Not once, Kelly said, was the former player barred from speaking on it or threatened with punitive measures if he did address it.

In fact, Kelly added, the decision to speak or not was left solely up to Shembo.

“We made a decision based upon the information we had,” Kelly said according to the Chicago Tribune. “We felt it was in Prince’s best interest that this was not a matter that needed to be discuss. But that was certainly something he could have decided to discuss.

We didn’t threaten him with he couldn’t play or we were going to put him on the bench or we were going to throw him out of school. It was still his decision.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the Seeberg case, the Tribune succinctly sums up the timeline and circumstances surrounding the controversy:

The Tribune in November 2010 reported that campus authorities did not initially tell county police about Seeberg’s report of a sexual attack, nor did campus police refer the case to the county’s special victims unit, which was established to handle sex offenses.

Seeberg, who battled depression and an anxiety disorder, described her account of what happened Aug. 31, 2010, in a typed statement she gave to campus police. On Sept. 2 she received a text message from one of Shembo’s friends, telling her, “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.”

She killed herself Sept. 10, 2010, overdosing on prescription medication.

As we have previously written, the university found the player’s actions did not violate its sexual misconduct policy and it was decided that the player would not be charged.

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33 Responses to “Brian Kelly: Prince Shembo not threatened into silence on Lizzy Seeberg case”
  1. friarjack61 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:20 PM

    I have my doubts !! I do not believe that the campus police, correctly handled the case ! Alleged rape, and charges are not thoroughly investigated ? SOMEONE, should be fired !!

  2. irishfbfan1 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:33 PM

    We on the outside of all this can draw all the
    The conclusions we want but the fact of the matter is we will never know exactly what took place during this unfortunate situation. I
    Can promise you this, no way, I mean, NO WAY would the University of Notre Dame allow for this, NO WAY would Coach Kelly allow for this! He was not convicted of any crime therefore he was treated as such. You can’t kick a kid out of school and off the team
    When somebody accuses you of something, that’s ridiculous! You must be convicted of a crime, have proof, evidence, and none of this was proved against #55. Hell, I can go out and say something about somebody or anybody that would lead to harm to another and get away with it? NO, University handled it properly and so did Brian Kelly. Now let’s play football!

    GO IRISH!
    ALWAYS AND FOREVER

  3. cfballfan1 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:54 PM

    Sounds like the cover – up now needs a cover – up.

  4. ttalarico says: Feb 28, 2014 2:03 PM

    irishfbfani said it well. If you had any contact with the University of Notre Dame, you would not be questioning the integrity of the University.

    This is old news that has been sufficiently explained.

  5. getsome99 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:07 PM

    This quote by Kelly backs up what Shembo said at the combine:

    “We made a decision based upon the information we had,” Kelly said according to the Chicago Tribune. “We felt it was in Prince’s best interest that this was not a matter that needed to be discuss. But that was certainly something he could have decided to discuss.”

  6. rheffero says: Feb 28, 2014 2:30 PM

    For the.flame baiter the charge was he went to 2nd base, she said no, started.to cry and immediately left. One knuckle head send ONE text.

    Rape never came.out her mouth nor ANY mention of being detained against her will.

    3 separate investigations, including 2 by folks hostile to the university found no crime.

    It is a long winding road to connect the dots to this being the root cause of her tragic suicide.

    Fault the initial urgency attached to the report. .ok..but the report was no violence. .willingly went into the room alone, during a party and he stopped when I said no.

  7. stoicpaisano says: Feb 28, 2014 3:19 PM

    Swarbrick and Dave Brandon at Michigan really need to send their coaches to some remedial PR/crisis communication courses. Kelly and Hoke come off as lunkheads with their comments on the Shembo and Gibbons incidents.

  8. jimbo75025 says: Feb 28, 2014 5:31 PM

    “We didn’t threaten him with he couldn’t play or we were going to put him on the bench or we were going to throw him out of school.”

    Of course not, Shembo was instead threatened with having to videotape a practice from a tower in a windstorm.

  9. chris3141084 says: Feb 28, 2014 6:57 PM

    He probably was threatened indirectly; if you talk about it, you’ll be the target of an investigation, I’ll have to suspend you (or whatever) because I can’t allow an alleged rape or sexual misconduct to go unpunished or I can’t just sweep it under the rug, someone died for god’s sake. I buy this line of reasoning, I can’t imagine the player just made up a story to tell, I also buy the coach being authoritative saying toe the company line and don’t go against me or I’ll suspend you for ‘violation or team rules.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Feb 28, 2014 7:15 PM

    This is OLD news. Everyone KNOWS Notre Dame will stop at nothing to protect the brand at ALL costs.

    Whether it’s Manti Te’o and his failed Heisman run because of a blow up doll, the death of Declan Sullivan, and the subsequent sexual assault cover up by Prince Shembo. Notre Dame ALWAYS protects the brand. ALWAYS.

    What else do you expect from a Catholic Institution?

    Why do you think Notre Dame was last relevant in 1988?

    Old news.

  11. musketmaniac says: Feb 28, 2014 9:17 PM

    hitting the Irish whiskey a little early in the day. Bad breath is not the only tell tell. Using words like Honor and integrity with Notre Dame is a huge sign.

  12. frank booth says: Mar 1, 2014 3:10 PM

    As long as fans and/or alumni like ttalarico and irishfbfan 1 see their program as infallible, they aid in building and supporting the exact environment that Penn State had. Especially when you look back at the death of Declan Sullivan. Kelly should have been fired for that- but as long as wins, he’ll be just fine. I loved Notre Dame as a kid- as you grow up, surrounded by alumni, the arrogance and entitlement and self-righteousness of these domers becomes intolerable- They protect their school at the expense of others. Rememer, this is the school that hired Lou Holtz. Holtz began making the U. of Minnesota a good program-because of unsavory recruiting tactics, which Notre Dame surely knew about.

  13. ttalarico says: Mar 1, 2014 4:50 PM

    @frank booth

    I had two children attend ND, how many years did you go there?

    I speak from experience, you speak, I assume, from meeting some ND fans that were arrogant and self-righteous. Just like all teams have. You don’t know true ND grads and parents that sacrificed to give their children the best education they could get.

    My daughter is a highly successful lawyer and my son is a highly successful doctor. They are two of the best people that I know. Kind and considerate, not arrogant. After graduating ND, my daughter volunteered and taught in an inter-city school in Washington D.C. for about $30/week before going back to ND for law school. When she graduated, 65% of ND graduates volunteered to do service work around the world for 1-2 years and many more than that.

    So before you talk about ND alumni, you need to meet more of the “true” ND grads and not just someone who got caught up in their football program as a youth, like yourself!

  14. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 1, 2014 6:23 PM

    ttlarico,

    Puh-leeze,

    Cut the sanctimonious crap!

    You act as if ND parents are the only ones that sacrifice or other college graduates volunteer. Like you, I have immediate family members graduate from ND, are very successful in their fields and they abhor Notre Dame for what they DIDN’T do in the Lizzy Seeberg case. They have stopped giving to the University directly because of the outright cowardice of President John Jenkins and the Notre Dame Administration.

    Notre Dame has protected the brand for DECADES and no amount penance on the part of alums and supporters can ever change that REALITY.

    Personally, I glad my sons decided to go elsewhere
    for their respective educations when Notre Dame came calling for recruiting. Notre Dame stopped being a Catholic University a long, long time ago, yet they still want me to contribute to the school (which goes into file 13.).

    RTR

  15. ttalarico says: Mar 1, 2014 6:51 PM

    @RTR

    Sorry you feel that way.

    I’m just saying that isn’t what we saw or experienced during the 11 years they were there.

    TT

  16. frank booth says: Mar 1, 2014 6:52 PM

    @ttalarico-

    Your comments couldn’t be further from the truth- living in the Chicago area, I know plenty of ND graduates- ex-players (both older eras and more recent), many boosters, and plenty of graduates, some who could care less about football. I used to belong to a group that was about 25% ND alumni. I know a couple of really good guys that went there that I consider friends. I grew up with plenty of guys that went there. I used to live across the street from the parents of an ND grad whose son is now a professional boxer-I’m sure you know who he is- another neighbor on the other side who is an attorney/ND grad/ND parent, and about a block away, an ND professor. I’ve done business with plenty of them. I’ve been up to the Bengal Bouts several times, plenty of football games, and a couple of other events.

    My guess is that I may have just as much experience with them as you do,but in a lot of different venues. So don’t tell me I don’t speak from experience.

    I’m sure you’re kids are great. There are plenty of good people that come out of there- there are also plenty of arrogant jerks who think that the world revolves around Notre Dame. One-on-one they are often fine, but get them in a room with other Domers, and they’ll act like you never existed. They act as if everything Notre Dame does is just fine, as if it is some infallible institution that always does everything just right- and it’s not the truth. I’ve heard plenty of dirty stories out of that school, and if there is one thing the Catholics do well, it’s circling the wagons and covering things up- everything is everybody else’s fault- I’ll tell you something else-Brian Kelly is no saint, and Declan Sullivan’s blood is on his hands Lou Holtz wasn’t a great guy either.

    So, it goes a lot further than following Notre Dame football as a youth. Of course, since your kids went there, you’d be biased- I understand.

  17. ttalarico says: Mar 1, 2014 7:12 PM

    Frank

    Couldn’t what you have just said be applied to any University in the country? Any fan, any alumni?

    Bad things happen all over the country and yes, at ND. Everyone sees things differently and forms their own opinions. I can only form my opinion on what my experiences were and the experiences of my children. As far as the unfortunate things that happened at ND, I don’t know who, if anyone, were at fault and you don’t either. Once again, I must back the University of ND based on what I experienced and still continue to experience.

    Go Irish!

  18. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 1, 2014 9:09 PM

    ttalarico,

    Other than Penn State, name ONE university that willfully stepped up and impeded a sexual assault investigation the way that Notre Dame did?

    Duke Lacrosse Rape case?
    Florida State University with Winston?
    Nebraska under Osborne?

    No, Notre Dame circled the wagons and actively looked to find dirt on Lizzy Seeberg when they hired PI’s to look into her background.

    If Shembo was innocent why was an ND alum and football supporter, Joe Power allowed to “represent” the University AND Shembo at the same time? Can you say conflict of interest? Who did Power represent? Shembo? ND?

    Frank is right, Holtz was a major pain in the a** when he was recruiting my sons. All he stressed was the tutoring and teaching assistants that would MAKE sure my sons would pass their courses.

    When directly asked exactly what he meant by that comment, he then asked what my sons grades were. Major crawl fishing when he found out that the boys had offers from Stanford and Cal in academics.

    Notre Dame was corrupt then and has been shown to be corrupt even more in this age of social media, the sooner that ND alums and supporters recognize the corruption, may be the ND culture would change.

    But then again, ND is a Catholic Institution and we know, sadly, the Catholic Church’s history
    on covering things up. Notre Dame will still be corrupt.

    RTR

  19. ttalarico says: Mar 2, 2014 12:39 AM

    Now let’s see, Penn State was proven to be corrupt.

    ND, not so much.

    Go Irish!

  20. frank booth says: Mar 2, 2014 1:34 AM

    ND wasn’t proven to be corrupt- and it wasn’t proven that OJ was a murderer.

    On the day those straight line winds were coming through the Midwest, it wasn’t any surprise. Prior to practice in Ohio, Jim Tressel said the following, 24 hours before Declan Sullivan was killed at Notre Dame:

    I don’t know if we’ll be inside or out,” “It looks a little nasty. I worry about our cameramen, their well-being up there 50 feet in the air.”

    Kelly worried? Not so much. Notre Dame fires coaches who lose.

    If a kid dies, not so much.

  21. ttalarico says: Mar 2, 2014 9:59 AM

    Once again, unless you were part of the investigative team, you don’t know what happened. That’s why we have courts. What does a statement by the Ohio State coach have to do with ND? And a coach that was fired no less!

    If this happened at your school, you would feel the same. Come on, admit it. People are loyal to their school. If ND was proven guilty of negligence, then the person responsible for it should be fired. No argument from me. However, that wouldn’t turn me against the university forever.

    You’re right OJ was not proven guilty for murder but is in jail. If ND is guilty of all the things “ND haters” say they are, wouldn’t they have been found guilty of something just like OJ?

  22. amosalanzostagg says: Mar 2, 2014 10:50 AM

    ttalarico wrote on: Mar 2, 2014 12:39 AM

    Now let’s see, Penn State was proven to be corrupt.

    ND, not so much.

    Go Irish!
    ____________________

    Glad to see you recognize that ND is corrupt, not as corrupt as Penn State, but your recognition of the corruption in ND is a start. Seek mental help and say ten Hail Marys as your penance.

    RTR

  23. ttalarico says: Mar 2, 2014 11:27 AM

    See that’s exactly what I mean about reading into things without the facts. Besides quoting a coach that was fired.

    If you believe I have admitted to ND being corrupt, I’ll say the ten Hail Marys for you.

    Go Irish!

    By the way, Ohio State sure did replace Tressel with an outstanding individual didn’t they?

  24. tony34343434 says: Mar 2, 2014 12:16 PM

    To compare any school to Penn state is a disgrace. Almost a 20 year scandal where the coach allowed boys to be brought to that monster sandusky with full knowledge of it all. The morons there still protect Paterno which is disgusting. You say Joe Pa i say allowing Molesters.

    Never let a good rant get in the way of facts, this was not a sexual assault or rape. Nice to make up facts.

    It shows that Notre Dame is college football whether they are good or bad they are the pinnacle of the sport. People hate the best, the yankees, cowboys, celtics etc. They have not faded one bit in popularity which is an amazing statement.

  25. tony34343434 says: Mar 2, 2014 12:23 PM

    You can also see Bigotry is alive and well on this forum and in the US. Easy to be a tough guy on here when you are anonymous.

  26. frank booth says: Mar 2, 2014 1:39 PM

    Notre Dame is not the pinnacle of college football. They may have been at one point, and they are better than they have been, but they haven’t won a championship in 25 years. They are 16-17 in bowl games. Coming off their slaughter at the hands of Alabama the previous year, they finished ranked 25th last year. In the AP poll, Notre Dame has finished the season ranked in the Top Twenty-Five only 3 out of the last 10 years. That is hardly the pinnacle.

    @ttlalarico-

    The point of mentioning Tressel’s comments should be clear. Those same winds coming through the Midwest that hit Notre Dame were also forecast for Ohio. Tressel realized the dangers and specifically mentioned the danger of putting a student on a lift prior to Sullivan dying at Notre Dame. Apparently, Kelly didn’t have the same concerns or awareness, and a student died because of it. He’s in charge for what happens in his program.

  27. ttalarico says: Mar 2, 2014 2:37 PM

    Did he just mention it or kept him off the lift? By what you said, you don’t know. If he knew and still left him up there, then that would be worse. How can a head coach in a major program stay on top of everything in his program?

  28. tony34343434 says: Mar 2, 2014 4:33 PM

    Why they are at the pinnacle of football is not because of wins. They can go 9-3 and still draw the biggest audience of the year. Notre Dame is and always will be college football if they win or lose. I also find it sick that an accident that caused a young man to die is being used because you hate ND that is sick and again only done because you are anonymous. You would be too much of a coward to say it to this young man’s parents and friends.

  29. frank booth says: Mar 2, 2014 4:46 PM

    @ttalarico

    You’re not really serious, are you? Are you seriously trying to reduce this conversation to lawyerspeak?

    Tressel said it prior to Sullivan dying, and prior to his team practicing. Clearly, it was on his mind, so a reasonable person would figure that it was discussed amongst coaches, and a determination made not to send a kid up. Even if it wasn’t directly ordered by Tressel, at least he was aware of the situation, and he had hired the right people to have enough sense not to put a kid in that position.

    A head coach is responsible for everything that goes on in his program. The buck stops with him, especially in a life or death situation. Also, it’s not like a kid on a lift is hidden away where no one can see him.

    What you are really doing here is underscoring the lengths that Domers and other affiliates will go to in order to defend a college sports program. It goes right back to ND alumni and fans thinking that they are infallible. If Kelly is an honorable man and a real leader, he can’t do anything else than accept the blame for his decision or a lack of awareness that resulted in the death of a student under his watch.

  30. frank booth says: Mar 2, 2014 4:57 PM

    @tony34343434

    You mad there, Tony?

    I don’t dislike Notre Dame solely because of what happened with Declan Sullivan. It’s just a symptom of what goes on there.

    I have no clue why I would even say anything to Declan Sullivan’s family, or why you are so hung up on that. However, if I were friends with them, and we were discussing the situation, I would have no problem saying that Brian Kelly’s poor decision making, lack of awareness, or ignorance of what is going on the program caused their son’s death. I’m sure they’ve heard plenty of that. Should I call them out of the blue and tell them that so that I’m not a coward in your eyes? That would make sense.

    As far as cowardice on what is written on these boards, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but pretty much all of these comments, thoughts, and opinions are written without the protagonists involvement.

    Tony- is McDonalds the pinnacle of the hamburger because it sells the most burgers? I’d daresay there are much better burgers out there. But you go on thinking what you need to think to get you through your day.

  31. ttalarico says: Mar 2, 2014 5:46 PM

    Tony

    Let the haters hate.

    Go Irish!

  32. musketmaniac says: Mar 3, 2014 8:53 PM

    N.dame hater here, chiming in. Kelly is the best coach the irish have had in a long time

  33. dhardy8207 says: Mar 8, 2014 12:28 PM

    The response or actions of the Administration says it all;

    Monti Te’o is exposed as a fraud when his non existant girl friend and death thereof is about to hit the national press and the Pres of the Irish holds a press conference on ESPN.

    Lizzy Seeburg commits suicide after her report of sexual assault is ignored and she receives text threats from another player and the Pres refuses to “get involved”. Yet he does involve himself enough to contact a lawyer/Alumni to represent the university and the player involved.

    His actions alone cry coverup!

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