MURPHY: Notre Dame accidentally issues employee $29,387 check

Michael MurphyThe funny thing about checks is that no matter how large the amount, they all weigh the same.

So when Sara Gaspar lifted a small white envelope from her mailbox, it’s doubtful any red flags were raised in the Notre Dame catering worker’s head.

Gaspar was expecting to receive a check from the school for $29.87. Due to a typing error, she received a check for $29,387. See the dilemma yet?

Gaspar claims that upon receiving the check, she called the university three times but was brushed off. Gaspar said in a statement to St. Joseph County Circuit Court that she “never heard a word back.”

Finders keepers, losers weepers. Says so in the Bill of Rights.

After unsuccessful contact, Gaspar said she “thought finally something wonderful had happened.”

She went on to use the $29,387 to pay off her debts and buy a car. But like all universities with Independent College Football teams, the blunder was soon noticed. Cue the ominous music.

Upon discovering the missing funds, the school asked Gaspar for the money back.

By this time it was too late, because Gaspar did what everyone does when they are accidentally given a large sum of money — she spent all of it.

The perplexing question is, who is more at fault here — Notre Dame or Gaspar?

Case for Gaspar: I am not saying I don’t believe she called Notre Dame to report the error, I am just questioning exactly what was said over the phone.

If her three phone calls to Notre Dame sounded something like this, then she may have a justifiable point.

“Hello, I work for Notre Dame catering and I just received a paycheck for nearly $30,000 more than I was supposed to. Am I being rewarded for my outstanding work or is this a mistake?”

Case for Notre Dame: Something tells me it wouldn’t take three separate phone calls to raise eyebrows at the Notre Dame switchboard, but maybe I’m giving them too much credit. Here’s what the phone call probably sounded like:

“Hello, I work for Notre Dame catering and I received the wrong amount of money on my paycheck. Put your school president or Jimmy Clausen on the line right now or I will hang up!”

Regardless of what happened, Gaspar says she received no response, so it became Notre Dame’s mistake. Now she’s “paying for their mistake.”

Not only are Notre Dame administrators asking for the money back, but a reimbursement for court and attorney fees as well.

The reimbursement is crucial for Notre Dame because with about 8,300 undergraduate students paying about $51,000 a year, $423 million annually is not what it used to be (we will cancel out football revenue with scholarship expenses).

Listen Notre Dame, we understand you are most likely in the right, but Gaspar is probably more naïve and ignorant than cunning and fraudulent.

Going for this poor woman’s throat seems a little gratuitous.

There has to be a better way to approach this.

The woman has already lost her job and says she doesn’t have enough money to pay for her own attorney, let alone pay the university.

They need to remember they are a Christian school and ask themselves, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Would he shake every last penny out of this woman’s pockets or schedule a payment plan to pay the school back (Jesus wanted to be an accountant before becoming a carpenter).

Notre Dame: Instead of taking this personally, why don’t you see this as an opportunity to make naysayers hate you less?

After all, isn’t this America?