UPDATED: Notre Dame suspends four football players during an academic fraud investigation


(Joe Raymond/AP)

UPDATE: Notre Dame has confirmed four football players are being investigated for “academic dishonesty” via a university press release.

“Young people sometimes make bad decisions and our job is to hold them accountable,” university president Rev. John I. Jenkins said during a news conference (via the Wall Street Journal). “This is not an athletic process, it is an academic process—they will be judged as students first.”

While the investigation is underway, the four players will not be allowed to participate in practices or games, although they will remain enrolled in the university. If found guilty of academic fraud, the students could face expulsion.

***

Notre Dame may have a few holes in its lineup when the Fighting Irish take the field Aug. 30 against Rice.

Four players — two of whom played key roles for Notre Dame in 2012, when the team advanced to the BCS title game — are the subject of an academic fraud investigation undertaken by the university, Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports is reporting. The names of the players have not been confirmed by the school, but Forde’s sources say wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive back KeiVarae Russell, defensive lineman Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore were interviewed Friday by school officials.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports has sources “close the program” telling him that the four players have been dismissed from the program. ESPN’s Matt Fortuna and Brett McMurphy, meanwhile, are reporting that the players are “expected to be suspended from football activities” because they received “improper help on classwork.”

Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson, who was Notre Dame’s starter in 2012, missed all of last season after he was suspended because he cheated on an exam. He has since been reinstated and again will be the team’s starter.

Thus far, the NCAA has not been involved in the university’s investigation, but sources tell Yahoo that the organization is aware of the situation.

As Forde notes, if the four players were found to have committed academic fraud that otherwise would have rendered them ineligible during the season, the NCAA could force Notre Dame to vacate victories. Daniels, a junior, and Russell, a senior, both saw extensive playing time for Notre Dame in 2012, when the Fighting Irish went 12-0 but lost to Alabama in the BCS title game.

Williams was expected to start this season, and Moore was expected to receive significant playing time.

The school has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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