Who says it isn’t easy being green? It’s actually never been simpler for Notre Dame fans to show their true colors, thanks to The Shirt, the annual student fund-raiser that flooded Notre Dame Stadium in a spirited “sea of green” during the football season.p. More than a fashion statement, The Shirt always has been popular attire for Fighting Irish fans since it was introduced 13 years ago. But there was something about the 2002 model that made it into something more – practically a dress code for home football Saturdays, and in turn a record-breaking financial success for the project and the student programs it funds.p. It isn’t just the design that makes it special, although the , images of the Four Horsemen and words of Knute Rockne have certainly proven inspirational. It’s the color – a bold kelly green, visible from one end of the stadium to the other – that makes this shirt The Shirt that’s giving Notre Dame fans a new way to get into the game.p. “This season presented a perfect situation for The Shirt Project,” “Return to Glory” slogansaid junior Courtney Schuster, president of The Shirt for 2002. “The combination of a popular new football coach, improved team record and the support of the Notre Dame student section in creating a ‘sea of green’ for the first home game led to the elevated success of the project this year.”p. First created in 1990 as a fund-raiser to help an injured student pay medical bills, The Shirt Project has grown by leaps and bounds. A total of 9,000 shirts were sold the first season, and in recent years that number has increased to an average of 44,000 sold annually, which was just the beginning for the 2002 design. That number of shirts flew off the shelves by the end of just the third football weekend. When all was said and done, the kelly green tee had turned a whopping $235,000 profit, which means big things for Notre Dame student programs.p. Money raised by The Shirt supports campus clubs, organizations and a charity fund that, continuing in the spirit in which the project was created, provides assistance to students who need help paying medical expenses. A portion also goes to the Rector Fund, which helps students who can’t afford to participate in campus activities, such as dances and service trips.p. This isn’t the first time The Shirt has been green. In fact, the color has flip-flopped between green and blue every year. But in the past, the shade has been more of a hunter green, much less eye-catching than the bright color of the “Return to Glory” shirt. Could there be some connection between the new hue and the rejuvenated performance of the Fighting Irish? Some student leaders of the project think so.p. “I honestly believe that the unity The Shirt provided played a part in our team’s success,” said sophomore Dave Brenner, president of the upcoming 2003 Shirt Project. “The fans felt more unified and therefore more involved when they wore the green. This electric atmosphere was something that players could tap into.”p. Project leaders are keeping most of the details of next year’s design under wraps, except for one feature, which will probably come as no big surprise.p. “The decision has been made to go with a green T-shirt again,” said Mary Edgington, assistant director of student activities and advisor for The Shirt. “Since the ‘sea of green’ was a huge success last year and has been expanded to include the basketball programs, the students felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved to keep it green and expanding.”p. Keeping it green means a break with tradition, as this will be the first time The Shirt has been the same color two years in a row. Will there be a three-peat? Only time will tell, but the success of last year’s project may be an indication that if you ask Irish fans, you can’t have too much of a green thing.