SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Mike Wadsworth, who spent five tumultuous years as Notre Dame's athletic director before stepping down in 2000, died yesterday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He was 60.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but Mr. Wadsworth had recently been diagnosed with bone cancer. He also was diagnosed with bladder cancer a year ago while waiting to undergo a kidney transplant.
Mr. Wadsworth, who was also the former Canadian ambassador to Ireland, was athletic director at Notre Dame from 1995 until resigning under pressure in February 2000.
During his tenure, Lou Holtz resigned as football coach and Mr. Wadsworth hired defensive coordinator Bob Davie as a replacement, a choice that became unpopular with fans as the Irish struggled.
Under Mr. Wadsworth, Notre Dame also entered into discussions with the Big Ten about joining the conference and ending the football program's independent status, discussions that outraged many alumni.
Notre Dame was also placed on NCAA probation during his tenure because of embezzlement by former booster Kimberly Dunbar and relationships she had with several football players.
Mr. Wadsworth was Canada's ambassador to Ireland for five years before taking over at Notre Dame. He previously was an executive in the financial services and manufacturing industries, a lawyer, a radio and television sportscaster, and a newspaper sports columnist.
He also played five years for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, winning rookie-of-the-year honors in 1966. He attended Notre Dame on a football scholarship, playing center and earning a letter in 1964.
He leaves his wife, Bernadette, and three daughters. Funeral arrangements were pending.