Notre Dame held a press conference on Friday evening to address an investigation into the academic dishonesty of several students, including four football players. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed that the four players are starting wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, staring defensive lineman Ishaq Williams and backup linebacker Kendall Moore.
Swarbrick and university president Rev. John Jenkins declined to provide many specific details of the case, stressing their desire for the investigation to be “thorough.” While the academic misconduct was initially suspected toward the end of the summer session and referred to the compliance office on July 29, Swarbrick and Jenkins declined to address how far back violations stretch.
Jenkins did, however, note that no one has yet to be expelled from the school.
“Let me emphasize something: At this juncture no one has been judged responsible for academic dishonesty,” Jenkins said. “No one has been dismissed from the university. And no sanctions have been imposed or no judgment has been made yet.”
The four players -- Daniels, Russell, Williams and Moore -- will be held out practice and competition indefinitely until the investigation is resolved.
When asked by a reporter how fifth-year coach Brian Kelly responded to the news, Swarbrick said he was cooperative, though disappointed. “Like all of us, he was devastated,” Swarbrick said. “… But he was also quick to understand the process, how he and his staff could be of assistance in the process and how it would work.”
Jenkins also deflected a question aimed at how this investigation would impact Notre Dame football’s recruiting practices. “We’re confident that the students that we admit have the capacity to be successful here,” Jenkins said.
From a strictly X's-and-O's perspective, the removal of Daniels, Russell, Williams and Moore from the team is significant. Daniels made 49 catches for 745 receiving yards and seven touchdowns last fall; the rest of the Fighting Irish’s returning wideouts combined for 598 receiving yards in 2013. Russell recorded 51 tackles last year, while Williams and Moore each had 17.
This is not the first scandal involving academics to hit Notre Dame recently. Quarterback Everett Golson and men’s basketball guard Jerian Grant were previously dismissed for separate academic issues, though both have since re-enrolled and will play in their respective upcoming seasons.
Notre Dame football opens its 2014 campaign on Aug. 30 against Rice.