There's precedent for a Catholic institution sticking with a coach despite his pro-choice stance on abortion. Rick Majerus is in his third season heading the St. Louis University men's basketball program after admitting during a TV interview at a January 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally that he is "pro-choice, personally." But will a Catholic institution hire a pro-choice coach? Somehow, during speculation that University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly is next in line to bear the Notre Dame football cross, the rumor spread that Kelly, an Irish Catholic who decades ago campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, is pro-choice. But no one seems to know for sure. "I searched online media archives all day today trying to find one reputable media reference to Kelly's stance on abortion," read a Tuesday post by Brooks at sportsbybrooks.com. "I found none."

then, 77 percent of more than 7,000 respondents to a stlouistoday.com poll backed the coach's "right of free speech" over the hard line taken by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, who had stated publicly, "I'm concerned that a leader at a Catholic university made these comments. It can lead Catholics astray. I just believe that it's of the essence for people to understand as a Catholic you just cannot hold these beliefs." Can Brian Kelly coach? His Bearcats were unbeaten while earning a second straight Big East championship this season, with five players garnering first-team all-conference honors. Can Kelly, who has expressed interest in the Notre Dame job, coach the Irish? The choice appears to be theirs.

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.