Four players implicated in Notre Dame academic investigation

Four players implicated in Notre Dame academic investigation
August 15, 2014, 7:30 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — For now, DaVaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore and KeiVarae Russell are still enrolled at Notre Dame while embroiled in an internal investigation into academic violations

Amid swirling rumors, Notre Dame revealed those four players are among several students being investigated for academic dishonesty, Notre Dame President John Jenkins, CSC and athletic director Jack Swarbrick revealed in a press conference Friday evening. The four players have been removed from team activities but remain enrolled at Notre Dame and are still on scholarship, meaning they will continue to have access to team facilities and meals. 

"We're taking full care of them during this investigation and they have what they need," Swarbrick said. "We're simply holding them out of practice during this investigation."

Notre Dame informed the NCAA of its investigation on Friday. 

Jenkins and Swarbrick cautioned the university is still in the early stages into its investigation, which in terms of the football program could reach beyond the four players who were implicated on Friday. 

[MORE: Notre Dame GA Kyle McCarthy will take leave of absence]

"The possibility that it may affect prior years does not reflect any conclusion," Swarbrick said. "It reflects a commitment to the thoroughness of the investigation. We're in a process now of following every bit of evidence that's presented to us and see where it leads."

A wide range of punishments exist for the four players interviewed by Notre Dame as part of its investigation on Friday, ranging from earning a failing grade to expulsion from the university. Swarbrick said in no way is the current investigation connected to the academic-fueled exiles of quarterback Everett Golson and Daniels in the last year. 

If Notre Dame's investigation determines academic violations did occur, the football program would voluntarily vacate wins from games in which those players participated while committing the violations. Williams played in 11 games in 2011, while Daniels and Russell have combined to play in every Notre Dame game dating back to the start of 2012's 12-1 run to the BCS Championship. 

Swarbrick said Notre Dame is not ready to vacate any wins at this point in the investigation, though again — it's still early. Other than the possibility of vacating wins, though, Swarbrick said he doesn't anticipate the NCAA to take further disciplinary action against Notre Dame.

"There are a few narrow instances where that triggers an NCAA concern. I want to stress we have no evidence of most of those here," Swarbrick said. "We have no involvement of a member of the coaching staff, no transcript impropriety, those sorts of things. This is left to us in our honor code process initially and we will keep the NCAA apprised. If it has NCAA consequences we will let them know."

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Jenkins offered his support for Brian Kelly and emphasized that the fifth-year coach, who signed a contract extension last season, is not implicated in the investigation. 

Notre Dame has long positioned itself as a beacon of academic honesty and success, with the university touting graduation rates and tough academic standards.

Friday's announcement of the investigation and the implication of four football players -- three of whom project as starters on the 2014 squad -- deals a significant blow to that reputation, no matter how university officials attempt to spin things. 

"I consider this the system doing its job," Jenkins said of the investigation. "Look, at any university you’re dealing with young people. The vast majority of them make good decisions, but young people sometimes make bad decisions. Our job is to hold them accountable and to use those incidents as a way to educate them and that’s what we’re doing. I think we’ve done that and we’ll do it in this case."