Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly said he felt "shock" and "disappointment" when athletic director Jack Swarbrick told him earlier this week that four of his players were under investigation for academic fraud, Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday.
“We hold our players to a very high standard here at Notre Dame; I believe Notre Dame to be vigilant on that end,” Kelly said in his first comments since the school announced its investigation on Friday. “We don’t say one thing and do the other. I’m proud of Notre Dame and the way that they act. We don’t look the other way.”
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Kelly said he did not know much about the investigation beyond it involving four of his players — cornerback KeiVarae Russell, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore and defensive end Ishaq Williams. He added that he "care[s] for those four guys deeply."
"They're a part of our program, but I have a job to do and I have another hundred players I have to be concerned with," Kelly said. "My focus and attention is on continuing to develop our players on a day-to-day basis."
The four players are accused of submitting homework and papers that were not their own work. Kelly, 52, is not expected to be questioned in the investigation.
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Quarterback Everett Golson was suspended all of last season for academic violations.
“One of the reasons why I wanted to come here was there were some core values as one of the preeminent Catholic institutions that you can’t compromise on and that’s integrity," Kelly said. "If you see something if going on that’s not right … it’s important that it’s addressed. I applaud the university for doing that. Along the way, I lost a starting quarterback and some key players, but I came here because I wanted to be associated with a university that had those standards.”
Notre Dame, which went 9-4 last season, starts its season on Aug. 30 at home at Rice. Kelly is 37-15 in four seasons with the Fighting Irish.
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- Chris Mascaro