Rockne sculpture unveiled

Author: Ed Cohen


A new larger-than-life bronze statue of Knute Rockne stands outside the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend.

The 7-foot-1-inch figure, weighing 700 pounds, is the work of Jerry McKenna, a 1962 graduate of Notre Dame. He is the same sculptor who did the Frank Leahy statue on the Juniper Road side of the football stadium and a cigar-holding Moose Krause, who sits on a bench alongside the Joyce Center across the street from Leahy.

McKenna is a huge fan of Rockne and said he went to special lengths in fashioning the statue, which was unveiled last March. In mixing the molten bronze he added special symbolic ingredients —bits of Rockne’s childhood carriage built by his father; gold leaf from the Golden Dome; aluminum from the wreckage of the plane that crashed and killed the legendary coach in 1931.

More than 40 Rockne family members from across the nation attended the unveiling of the piece, which was paid for with a combination of public funds and private donations.

A duplicate statue is scheduled to be unveiled March 31—the 75th anniversary of Rockne’s death—in Rockne’s birthplace, Voss, Norway.