The 2016 Shirt
In approaching design for The Shirt 2016, the student committee wanted to create a Shirt with a bold and modern design, one that would stand out in the ND Stadium, and one that paid tribute to ND’s storied history while looking to the future. For these reasons, we chose the 2016 color – a bright royal blue similar to the 1991 and 2011 Shirts. Also, The Shirt 2016 is 100% washed cotton, marking a return to 100% cotton but keeping the softer feel of more recent Shirts.
In honoring the past, the back design features banners with the years that ND won national championships. The main focus of the back design, however, is a quote. This quote comes from Fr. Hesburgh in an interview he gave to Sports Illustrated in 1958. Fr. Hesburgh was responding to criticism after the firing of ND head coach Terry Brennan, and in the article he provides his perspective on collegiate football. He said:
"There is no academic virtue in playing mediocre football and no academic vice in winning a game that by all odds one should lose... There has been a surrender at Notre Dame, but it is a surrender to excellence on all fronts, and in this we hope to rise above ourselves with the help of God."
With this quote, Fr. Hesburgh articulated a sentiment that is still present today at ND—that the University of Notre Dame strives for both academic excellence AND the pursuit of championship football. There is no reason the two are mutually exclusive endeavors.
Following the death of Fr. Hesburgh last year, we wanted to honor him on The Shirt 2016 in a way that felt appropriate, and we felt that this quote fit perfectly.
The front design is simple compared to the back but maintains the overall design aesthetic and modern feel. The words “Fighting Irish” are placed around a football graphic and “2016.” The front design is also a modern rendition of the 1991 Shirt, which featured “Irish” with a football graphic.
What is The Shirt?
Our committee works all year to produce a shirt that Notre Dame nation can take pride in wearing throughout the football season. Dozens of iterations are created before the final design is chosen.
Half of the proceeds from The Shirt go to The Shirt Charity, which helps students afford unexpected medical expenses. Remaining revenue is used to fund student clubs, organizations, and The Rector Fund, which allows all students to have the full Notre Dame experience regardless of their financial situation.
Within Notre Dame Stadium, The Shirt can be seen as a common thread uniting not only the students, but all fans in one solid color. A sea of same-colored Shirts gives the opposing team a "twelfth man" to fear.
History of The Shirt
The Shirt Project began in 1990 as a means to raise money to fund Notre Dame student activities – a cause it continues to support today. In the spring of 1990, senior Brennan Harvath ’91, then Chairman of AnTostal, had the idea to sell T-shirts to raise funds for AnTostal, the Student Union Board’s spring festival. The shirt created for the fundraiser was also intended to unify the student body for the home-opener football game against Michigan on September 15, 1990. Over 9,000 shirts were sold and sales reached over $17,000.
Due to the popularity of The Shirt 1990, the program continued the following year with the successor Chairman of AnTostal once again coordinating the project. As the success and renown of The Shirt increased, revenue exceeded the needs of the Student Union Board. Thus, The Shirt Project became its own student organization, and student leaders decided to distribute annual profits to other student organizations.
Since 1990 The Shirt Project has grown to provide a major source of income to student clubs and organizations. Thanks to funds provided by the Project, the activity fee charged annually to students has not been raised since 2004. Funds are also distributed to The Rector Fund, through which rectors can request money for students who could not otherwise afford football tickets, textbooks or fees for other campus-life activities. Although The Shirt Project aims to sell as many Shirts as possible each year, its ultimate goal is to benefit the students of Notre Dame.
Following the success of the first Shirt in 1990, a second was made the same year. Called the “T-shirt for the Cause,” the second Shirt was created to support a doctoral student, Zhengde Wang, who had been seriously injured after being hit by a car in October 1989. Sister Jean Lenz, then Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, along with Joe Cassidy, then Director of Student Activities, and the Hall Presidents’ Council, decided to use a second Shirt as a fundraiser to defray Wang’s medical expenses. The shirt they created was to be worn at the upcoming home football game against Miami on October 20, 1990. All 17,000 navy blue shirts printed for the game sold out before kickoff. A second version of the “T-Shirt for the Cause” was printed after the game with the game’s score, and an additional 15,300 of these shirts were sold. The 32,300 total shirts generated over $100,000 for Wang.
Following the success of the “T-shirt for the Cause,” The Shirt Project continued to support students with extreme medical expenses. In 1993, funds from the Project aided a student who had been paralyzed. Additional proceeds were used to establish memorial scholarships in the names of Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp, two members of the varsity swimming team who died in a bus accident the previous year.
The charitable aspect of the “T-shirt for the Cause” campaign continues to this day, as half of the funds raised from sales of The Shirt are allocated to The Shirt Charity Fund, which supports Notre Dame students who suffer from extraordinary medical conditions that require payment beyond their means.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why does the color of The Shirt change from year to year?
- Who produces The Shirt?
- How is the design of The Shirt decided?
- What does The Shirt benefit?
- How long has there been a Shirt?
- Which have been the most popular Shirts?
- Where can The Shirt be purchased?
- Does The Shirt sell out?
- What sizes are offered?
- Do you offer women's cut shirts?
- How can I purchase Shirts from past years?
Why does the color of The Shirt change from year to year?
The tradition of changing the color of The Shirt each year began with the first two Shirts created in 1990 (a green shirt for the Michigan game and a navy shirt for the Miami game). The Shirt has changed colors each year since then with the exception of years 2002-2004, where it remained green three times in a row. The Shirt has most commonly been shades of blue and green with a few exceptions. Though the color of The Shirt typically changes from year to year, the exact color is kept confidential until the unveiling in April.
Who produces The Shirt?
Every November, various vendors bid for the opportunity to produce The Shirt for the following year. Over the history of The Shirt, various vendors have produced The Shirt including Hanes, Anacoda, Champion, Cadre Athletic, St. Claire Apparel, Pro Edge, Adidas, and Alta Gracia.
How is the design of The Shirt decided?
In November a student committee is appointed to coordinate all aspects of The Shirt. After the color is decided, the committee works for weeks to find a theme and associated elements to include on The Shirt. The committee draws inspiration for the theme from Notre Dame songs, quotes and moments in both University and football history.
What does The Shirt benefit?
Beyond bringing unity to the student body and Notre Dame Stadium, all profits of The Shirt support Notre Dame students. In general, half of the revenue supports student clubs, organizations and residence halls. The other half of the profits are directed to The Shirt Charity Fund, which helps students who face catastrophic accidents or illnesses, and the Rector Fund, a program which provides funding for students to take part in campus life activities that they cannot afford to pay for on their own, such as textbooks, football tickets and service trips.
How long has there been a Shirt?
The tradition of The Shirt began as a student fundraiser in the spring of 1990 and has been worn by students and fans alike ever since. The year 1990 featured two shirts: a green shirt for the September 15 Michigan game and a navy blue shirt for the October 20 Miami game. More information on history of the Project can be found here.
Which have been the most popular Shirts?
The most popular shirt to date is the 2011 collegiate royal blue shirt. The 2006 navy blue and 2013 dark kelly green follow in second and third place.
- 2011 165,000 Cheer Cheer For Old Notre Dame (collegiate royal)
- 2015 164,800 Irish Football 2015, A Golden Tradition (heather green)
- 2014 164,000 Then, Now, Forever. Notre Dame Football 2014 (heather blue)
- 2013 156,000 On the Heels of Legends We Rise to Victory (dark kelly green)
- 2006 155,000 Tradition (navy blue)
Where can The Shirt be purchased?
One of the unique aspects of The Shirt is that sales are restricted to only certain vendors. As such, you will not find The Shirt in malls or retail apparel stores. The Shirt is available exclusively from the University of Notre Dame at the following locations:
Online at: ndcatalog.com
Online at: shop.UND.com
You will also find The Shirt sold at select student-run concession stands on game day.
Does The Shirt sell out?
Yes, The Shirt can sell out. Fans are encouraged to purchase their Shirt early in the season to get their preferred size. In recent years, popular sizes of The Shirt have sold out before the last few home games. The Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore provides pre-orders before it is unveiled on ndcatalog.com.
What sizes are offered?
The Shirt is offered in the following sizes:
Toddler: 2T, 3T, 4T, 5T
Youth: Small, Medium, Large, XL
Unisex: Small, Medium, Large, XL, XXL, XXXL, XXXXL
Womens: Small, Medium, Large, XL
Do you offer women's cut shirts?
Yes, 2016 will be the first year we offer Women's cut shirts. They are available in sizes Adult S-XL at the bookstore.
How can I purchase Shirts from past years?
Every spring the previous year’s shirt is “retired” and no longer made available for sale. In keeping with the tradition of The Shirt, past shirts are not re-printed or re-sold. Fans seeking past shirts have found the best luck on sites such as eBay.