There is not a college or university in the country -- public or private -- that would not do, and does not do, the same thing as Notre Dame.
Sure there are! I'll name a few high profile ones for you, just in case
Stanford university: Legacies have their admissions chances virtually doubled....meaning they have a whopping 20% chance of getting in--which, ironically enough, is still 5% below ND's regular admit rate--and about 25% below ND's admit rate for legacies.
University of Michigan: Legacies are given ONE additional point on the rubric used for admission. 100 points are needed to gain admission.
University of Virginia: Legacies are given in-state privileges for the purposes of admission. This increases their chances of admission from around 30% to 43%---unless, of course, they are already VA residents, in which case it doesn't help them at all.
University of California: Legacies are given NO additional points, percentages, hugs, or kisses. I've seen quadruple legacies whose parents are MAJOR donors rejected with 2300 SATs.
ND doesn't have to do it that way, simple as that.
Heycow: Perhaps if ND DID have a fair and open admissions policy, they would be ranked higher--to have their strength of applicant pool and still be considered several places behind Duke, Cornell, Dartmouth, etc., is troubling. But obviously the admissions office could care less unless you're a legacy or minority.
I realize it's not legacies' or minorities' fault (which is why I've never criticized them). The decisions are completely up to the office of admissions. For a university that was founded on the establishment of fair play, they sure don't reflect that very well in present times.