By Zac Ellis
Everett Golson, the quarterback who helped lead Notre Dame to last season's BCS National Championship Game, is no longer a member of the Fighting Irish, according to multiple reports. A Notre Dame spokesperson confirmed to WNDU.com that the sophomore passer is not currently enrolled at the school.
Notre Dame spokesperson Dennis Brown would not disclose the reason behind Golson's departure, telling ESPN.com that the school is barred by law from divulging specifics on the player's situation.
"Everett is not enrolled at the university. Federal law and our own polices preclude us from discussing specifics."
Initial reports stated that Golson's abrupt exit might involve some form of a residence life violation, Chicago Tribune reporter and SI.com contributor Brian Hamilton tweeted:
Hamilton later reported that the violation was allegedly academic in nature:
While more details will surely surface in the coming days, one thing is immediately clear: Notre Dame will need to find a new starting quarterback. As a redshirt freshman last season, Golson started 12 of 13 games, throwing for 2,405 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. The first-year player completed 58.8 percent of his passes and finished the season with a 131.0 quarterback rating. He was also a rushing threat for the Irish, tallying 298 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Keyed by a dominant defense and Golson's dual-threat ability, the Irish reached the BCS title game for the first time since 1988, losing to Alabama 42-14 despite a 270-yard, two-touchdown performance from their quarterback in the championship contest.
Coming off that title game berth, Golson's role as the starter was all but assured heading into 2013. And while Golson needed to improve his accuracy and decision making, there was wide-spread excitement in South Bend about his growth potential this coming season. If he helped the Irish go undefeated as a raw rookie, how good could he -- and by extension the Irish -- ultimately be?
That thinking had permeated the depth chart, as backup quarterback Gunner Kiel, a former five-star recruit, transferred to Cincinnati just before the start of spring practice in an effort to find a situation where he could compete for the starting job.
Kiel probably wishes he'd stayed put in light of this latest news. With Golson and Kiel gone, however, the Irish will likely stage an open competition between three passers: senior Tommy Rees, the most experienced quarterback on the Notre Dame roster with 18 career starts; fourth-year junior Andrew Hendrix, who has game experience but fell down the depth chart last season; and early enrollee Malik Zaire, a highly touted recruit who was the No. 3 quarterback in the class of 2013, according to Rivals.com. Rees should get the first look given his considerable game experience, but when trusted to lead the offense in the past, Rees has come up short, committing bone-headed turnovers at crucial times and running afoul of the law. Notre Dame is no stranger to offseason distractions in the wake of Manti Te'o's bizarre fake girlfriend saga, but Te'o was off to the NFL regardless. In addition to the Golson news being one more headline headache for the Irish, it presents a very real and very unanticipated on-field concern. If Notre Dame hopes to wake the echoes in consecutive seasons, it's going to need to find a quarterback first.