Fighting Irish’s Connaughton will continue as two-sport star
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Pat Connaughton is going to be a two-sport athlete for a bit longer, only now he’s going to be paid for one.
Connaughton said Monday he has reached an agreement with the Baltimore Orioles, who picked him in the fourth round of the Major League Baseball draft last week, but has not yet signed a contract.
He said the organization will allow him to play basketball at Notre Dame his senior year, saying his initial contract will be for six or seven weeks.
“I’m excited to go out there and show what I can do,” Connaughton said.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander was 3-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 starts for the Irish and was a swingman on the basketball team, finishing third in scoring at 13.8 points a game. He dunked on Duke’s Jabari Parker and struck out Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
Connaughton plans to travel to Baltimore on Tuesday, then head to Sarasota, Florida, later in the week to begin his minor league career. He told Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey that he will be back in South Bend on July 30 so he can have a week to get ready for the team’s trip to Italy
“Until then, I try to make as much baseball improvements as I can, and basically start plugging through the minors as quickly as possible,” Connaughton said.
Brey, who grew up a Baltimore fan and wore an Orioles baseball cap on Tuesday, said the experience should make Connaughton a better captain and leader.
Brey is happy to have Connaughton and leading scorer Jerian Grant back next season. Grant was suspended in the spring semester for an academic violation and the Irish finished 15-17, their first losing season since 1998-99.
“I think when you start with him and Grant back on the perimeter, you start with two of the better returning players in the league. That’s a great place to start for us,” he said.