SATURDAY UPDATE: Head Coach Brian Kelly spoke with the media Saturday following Notre Dame’s decision to ban four football players from practices and games, announcing an investigation into “suspected academic dishonesty.”
The investigation comes after allegations arose in late July that someone had done homework for several players.
Kelly said today Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told him about the investigation on Thursday.
“My emotions were shock and disappointment at the time,” Kelly said at the news conference. “It’s a privilege to play at Notre Dame, not a right…we don’t look the other way.”
Notre Dame named Friday the four football players at the center of the investigation as cornerback KeiVarae Russell, returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and backup linebacker Kendall Moore.
All four players have been banned from practices and games.
“I applaud the University for doing that,” Kelly said. “I came here because I wanted to be part of a university that had those standards.”
Kelly says he has not been told of any other players on the team being under investigation. The university did say they were also investigating other students who were allegedly involved in the case.
WSBT’s Carl Deffenbaugh was at the stadium today for Kelly’s reaction and will have the latest on WSBT News at 11.
ORIGINAL: Notre Dame is facing the possibility of losing three starters before the football season has even begun after another embarrassing hit for a university that prides itself on high academic standards.
Notre Dame barred four football players from practice and games Friday, announcing an investigation into "suspected academic dishonesty" after allegations surfaced that someone had done course work for them.
The group includes KeiVarae Russell, the team's best cornerback, leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, and defensive end Ishaq Williams, expected to be a key contributor on the line.
Backup linebacker Kendall Moore is also being held out of practice during the investigation.
The Fighting Irish are now facing the possibility that a second straight season could be effected by academic misconduct issues.
Last year, quarterback Everett Golson missed the season after being suspended from school for what he called he called poor academic judgment. The Irish finished 9-4 behind Tommy Rees, but coming off an appearance in the BCS title game in 2012 it was a step back.
Golson has returned, but now coach Brian Kelly could be scrambling to fill holes before opening his fifth season in South Bend at home against Rice on Aug. 30.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Kelly was "devastated" by the news.
The Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, and Swarbrick expressed support for Kelly.
"We have great confidence in Brian and his staff," Jenkins said. "They have been nothing but supportive."
Jenkins said Notre Dame has notified the NCAA about the inquiry. Because of potential violations, the four players can't compete until the conclusion of the investigation and the university honor code process.
Jenkins said during a news conference that no student has been judged responsible for "academic dishonesty."
"Nobody has been dismissed," Jenkins said.
Jenkins said there is no timetable about how long the investigation will take.
"We will take as long as it takes to have a thorough and fair investigation and proceed through our academic honor code process."
He said such investigations at Notre Dame aren't common "but it happens."
The university also is investigating if other students also are involved. Jenkins said it was too early to say if the four players acted together.
Jenkins said if it is found they violated the school's honor code the penalties could range from an F on an assignment, to an F in the course to dismissal from school. The penalty would be decided by an honor committee.
Swarbrick said the players have not been suspended. He said they remain grant-in-aid students and have access to athletic facilities and resources.
Jenkins said evidence students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others was initially detected at the end of the summer session. The case was then referred to the compliance office on July 29.
Jenkins said he didn't want to speculate on possible NCAA punishment, while Swarbrick said the NCAA usually defers to a university when it comes to academic integrity.
"There are a few narrow instances where that triggers an NCAA concern, but I must stress we have no evidence of most of those here. No involvement by a member of the coaching staff, no transcript impropriety, those sorts of things," he said. "If it has NCAA consequences, we'll let them know."
Jenkins said the school would vacate victories if it is determined players have been ineligible during past competition. All four were members of the 2012 team that played for the BCS national championship.
The investigation is the latest in a series for the Irish in the past 15 months involving academics, starting with Golson.
Jerian Grant, the leading scorer on the basketball team at the time, was suspended in December for the spring semester for an academic violation. Daniels was suspended two weeks later for the spring semester and was recently reinstated.
Swarbrick said the previous cases were different.
"Let's not confuse academic probation where you don't make grades in a semester with academic dishonesty. They are very different things," he said.
Jenkins said he believes it shows Notre Dame's honor system is doing its job.
"At any university you're dealing with young people. The vast majority of them make good decisions. But young people sometimes make bad decisions," he said. "Our job is to hold them accountable and to use those incidents as ways to educate them. That's what we're doing."
Father Jenkins says the investigation will take as long as necessary because they want to be thorough.
He was quick to point out that none of the accused have been judged but he did say academic misconduct has no place at a university.
News of the investigation spread very quickly throughout the community.
We've been getting reactions on social media and after the press conference we spoke to people near campus to find out what they think.
Many are chiming in on our WSBT Facebook page like Michelle who says "I am a Notre Dame fan but this is nothing I can cheer about."
Mark wrote, "Not good but at least Notre Dame self-reported this."
Father Jenkins says academic misconduct at Notre Dame isn't common but it does happen.
He adds, "Integrity is at the heart of our mission as a university. academic dishonesty strikes at that heart."
One woman says if it turns out to be true it's a disgrace.
She says a lot of young people look up to college football players so cheating does not set a good example.
Another woman we spoke to who is a senior at Notre Dame says she was very disappointed to hear about the academic misconduct investigation.
Katie Carpenter says, "I think it's great what the football team does for the university but I think primarily they're students first. Student-athlete not athlete-student."
Jack Kimmell lives in South Bend and says this whole thing is not good for Notre Dame.
He says, "They always talk about their graduation rates for their athletes and that's a big selling point to people. When stuff like this happens it kind of ruins that."
Father Jenkins says the university does have an honor code process.
If the investigation finds the accused did cheat then depending on the severity they could get a failing grade on the homework or paper in question, fail the class or be dismissed from the university all together.
Jenkins adds, "We are committed to taking strong action and to using this experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all they do."
During the press conference they refused to say how many other students may be suspected of academic misconduct.
Most of the people we spoke to think if the players or anyone else are found guilty of academic dishonesty they should be expelled from the university.