''Coach Kelly was hired not only because of his football expertise, but because we believed his character and values accord with the highest standards of Notre Dame,'' Rev. Jenkins said in a letter to the Notre Dame community that was made public by the university Friday.
''All we have seen since he came to Notre Dame and everything we have learned in our investigation to date, have confirmed that belief. For those reasons, I am confident that Coach Kelly has a bright future leading our football program.''
In a letter to students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends, Rev. Jenkins said ''we at Notre Dame -- and ultimately I, as President -- are responsible'' for Sullivan's death.
''There is no greater sadness for a university community than the death of one of its student under any circumstances,'' Rev. Jenkins wrote. ''Yet this loss is more devastating, for Declan died in a tragic accident while in our care. For that, I am profoundly sorry.
''We are conducting an investigation and we must be careful not to pre-judge its results, but I will say this: Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe. We at Notre Dame -- and ultimately I, as President -- are responsible. Words cannot express our sorrow to the Sullivan family and to all involved.''
Rev. Jenkins' also announced that Peter Likins, a former president of the University of Arizona, has agreed to provide an independent review of the internal investigation into the death of Sullivan ''in order to ensure that our inquiry has been thorough, unbiased and accurate.''
The investigation into the circumstances surrounding Sullivan's death are ongoing. No timetable for its conclusion has been announced. ''I assure you that, when complete, we will issue a public report on the outcome, including information on the events of the afternoon of Oct. 7, any institutional ramifications, and recommendations for safety policies in the future,'' Rev. Jenkins said in the letter.