Former Notre Dame football player and wife endow coaching position

ND Insider Staff Report
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — A member of the University of Notre Dame 1988 national championship football team and his wife have made a $3 million gift to endow the football team’s defensive backs coaching position, the university announced Friday.

The gift was made by Pat and Jana Eilers, of Winnetka, Ill. It will underwrite the salary of the defensive backs coach, which becomes the first endowed assistant coach position at Notre Dame.

A two-year starter for the football team, Eilers played three different positions — flanker, split end and defensive back — after transferring from Yale. He appeared in 34 career games and started 18 times. As a flanker and split end, he totaled 11 receptions for 123 yards, added 10 carries for 38 yards and one touchdown and returned four punts for 23 yards. As a defensive back and on special teams in 1987, he made 21 tackles, one for loss, one sack and one pass breakup. He also lettered in baseball, batting .307.

Last year, Eilers took a sabbatical from his job as managing director of Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, to serve as defensive quality control assistant for the Notre Dame football team in order to support Kelly’s staff while defensive graduate assistant coach Kyle McCarthy was on a medical leave.

“I’m honored that my friend, and former teammate, Pat Eilers was willing to make such an incredibly generous gift,” said Todd Lyght, the defensive backs coach. “Pat’s love, dedication and commitment to Notre Dame and our football program are exemplary. It’s extremely humbling that my position will now bear his family’s name.”

The Eilers have made previous gifts to endow an engineering fellowship in the ND Energy Center, the Cavanaugh Council and the Joyce Football grant-in-aid program.

Prior to joining MDP in 1999, Eilers served as a director with Jordan Industries Inc., a private holding company. He also worked as an associate with venture capital firm Investment Advisors Venture Capital Inc. At Notre Dame, Pat Eilers earned a degree in biology in 1989 and a degree in mechanical engineering in 1990, and later earned a master's of business administration degree from Northwestern University.

After college, Eilers played in 61 games during an NFL career from 1990 through 1995 with the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears.

The couple has four children, including Elizabeth, who graduated from Notre Dame last year, and Katherine, a Notre Dame junior women’s lacrosse player.

(SBT File Photo)