Notre Dame University confirmed on August 15 that four members of its famed football team, among other students, are under investigation for “suspected academic dishonesty,” according to Rev. John Jenkins, the university’s president. The four football players have been identified as cornerback KeiVarae Russell, wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, and defensive lineman Ishaq Williams. The four student athletes are still enrolled at the South Bend IN institution, but are not allowed to practice or engage in competition, pending the outcome of the investigation. So far, how long the investigation will take to complete remains unclear. "At this time no one has been judged responsible for academic dishonesty. No one has been dismissed," said Rev. Jenkins.
Notre Dame notified the NCAA on the same day, because of the potential for NCAA violations. Any possible academic dishonesty by other students will be addressed appropriately. Referring to Notre Dame’s honor code, Rev. Jenkins said, “Integrity is at the heart of our mission and academic misconduct will not be tolerated at Notre Dame, while adding, “If the suspected improprieties are proven, we will use the experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all that they do. We are also examining ways of better conveying to students that they can avail themselves of legitimate academic assistance without resorting to cheating.”
Notre Dame says that there is evidence that students submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others. At the end of July 2014, the university’s Office of General Counsel initiated an investigation. "This is not an athletic process, this is an academic process," Rev. Jenkins said. "They will all be judged as students first." Notre Dame expects to begin its football season in just 13 days in a game with Rice University.
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly was informed of the investigation on August 14. He was reportedly “devastated” by the news. Rev. Jenkins explained that the matter is an academic issue foremost, while stressing that the student will go through the same process as other students and dealt with through the honor code. "We have great confidence in Brian and his staff," Jenkins said, while saying that there is no evidence that Kelly knew what was going on. If the invetigation determines that the student-athletes would have been ineligible during games in the past, the university will voluntarily vacate any victories. “The University is committed to thorough resolution of this matter, consistent with its commitment to academic integrity and adherence to NCAA rules," Rev. Jenkins said.
Cornerback Russell, an All-American candidate, was a starter in all 26 games of his Notre Dame career and was expected to be the cornerstone of the Irish secondary in 2014 if not the entire defense. Wide receiver Daniels missed the entire spring semester due to academic issues, but returned to campus this summer. He is the top returning wide receiver, catching 49 passes for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013 for Notre Dame. Defensive lineman Williams was expected to be a starter on the defensive line.
Notre Dame’s president has had a bumpy ride since he took the position in 2005. Rev. Jenkins came in for criticism for inviting President Barack Obama, a known supporter of abortion, to speak at the campus and receive an honorary doctorate. Sexual harassment of women has been an issue too, especially since the 2010 suicide of freshman Lizzy Seeburg who alleged before her death that she had been sexually assaulted by an as yet unnamed football player.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.