Notre Dame’s $400 million renovations include 3,000-4,000 premium seats

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Notre Dame revealed plans for a $400 university renovation project that will see some upgrades to storied Notre Dame Stadium in the coming years. According to a press release from the university outlining the details of the project, Notre Dame Stadium will have three structures added to the stadium for various activities and the addition of anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000 premium club seats.

“At a time when so many would call into question the viability of the collegiate sports model in America, it is fitting that Notre Dame, a perennial leader in the measures of academic performance by student-athletes, offers a bold vision providing emphatic evidence that the full integration of athletics into the academic mission of a university is not only possible but desirable,” said Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s vice president and director of athletics. “Coach Brian Kelly and I are thrilled that one of the most famous sports venues in the world will now also be known as one of the most innovative educational facilities.”

The expansion on the west side of Notre Dame Stadium will serve as a center for student life services with space for a recreation center and career center. On the east side of the stadium will be a building dedicated for the anthropology and psychology departments as well as a digital media center. The south expansion will house the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame. As you read through the details of the expansion, you can see how it may benefit the football program in the future.

Premium seating means big money for the school, if they can sell out the tickets. This being Notre Dame, that seems likely. The Irish are also updating the game day experience inside the stadium for all fans with the addition of an updated and modern scoreboard in the south end. Having all of those other services literally attached to the football stadium also makes for a more attractive football program and beyond. At this time no seating changes will take place in the two lower bowls of the stadium. A total capacity for the stadium once the project is completed has not been confirmed.

What is interesting is that Notre Dame chose to make the football stadium the center of the campus renovations and upgrades. The first question on the project’s website asks why the decision was made to build around the stadium.

“Currently, the stadium is used just 10 to 12 times a year,” the website explains. “In 2013, the University formed an oversight committee of faculty and staff tasked with studying an ambitious concept: how to make this campus crossroads a year-round hub for academic and student life. With assistance from outside consultants with expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services, and student life, that group helped craft the bold plan detailed on this website.”

The project is not starting overnight though. Expect the project plans to become reality within the next two years and it should take an estimated 33 months to complete. There are no plans to rename Notre Dame Stadium.

Artist rendering via Notre Dame Athletics.

Indiana freshman DB Bryant Fitzgerald ruled a non-qualifier after compliance error

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A key member of Indiana’s recruiting class won’t be able to play for the Hoosiers this season as a result of a serious compliance gaff at the school.

Freshman defensive back Bryant Fitzgerald was ruled by the NCAA to be a non-qualifier according to a statement released by the program and, as a result, will now be unable to play or practice for the team. A waiver was requested but both it and the appeal were denied.

At the heart of the matter seems to be the IU compliance office incorrectly advising Fitzgerald what classes to take in order to be eligible right away at the school in the eyes of the NCAA. As the above statement and a later one from athletic director Fred Glass make clear, this was a mistake on the school’s part that will cost the defensive back a full season and not about anything he did or didn’t do.

Fitzgerald was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in nearby Avon, Ind. but was expected to make a serious run at playing time given past comments by head coach Tom Allen. It certainly seems like a bummer all around for player, school and coach but the situation is what it is at this point.

Lane Kiffin lands yet another talented transfer in WVU wideout Jovon Durante

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We can joke about Lane Kiffin turning FAU into the real ‘Last Chance U’ in 2017 but… it’s kind of happening for real.

In addition to adding several alums from the Netflix show, the Owls have been stocking the roster left and right with FBS transfers this offseason and added yet another just before the season starts in West Virginia wide receiver Jovan Durante.

Durante has started 17 games in his first two seasons in Morgantown, racking up 331 yards and two touchdowns as a sophomore in 2016. He was expected to assume a starting role once again this year but didn’t report to the Mountaineers preseason camp for what WVU coach Dana Holgorsen described as personal issues.

The South Florida native will have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two seasons of eligibility for the Owls after he redshirts this year.

BYU linebacker looking to transfer to Utah after being forced to redshirt

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When BYU announced this week that linebacker Francis Bernard was going to redshirt this season, only a few people seemed to think anything was really amiss. That does not seem to be the case anymore just a week before the Cougars start their season.

The Salt Lake Tribune talked with Bernard’s brother, James, about the matter and it appears the family is not too happy over the situation and is now looking to transfer. While that wouldn’t normally be much to write home about, the fact that the younger Bernard wants to move up the road to Holy War rival Utah is bound to raise some eyebrows.

“Just to be clear: My brother wants to transfer, regardless,” James Bernard told the paper. “We talk almost every day. He just doesn’t want to stay there any more.”

He went on to say that the reason that first prompted the redshirt announcement was not related to academics or playing time but a potential Honor Code issue with the school. What exactly that violation was however, is not exactly being made clear by the program to the family.

Bernard was suspended from the team’s bowl game last year for an unspecified violation of team rules but was given every indication that he would be back in the good graces of the team prior to preseason camp. That is obviously not the question and it appears a brewing transfer battle to move from Provo to Salt Lake City will soon be taking place between two bitter rivals over the junior linebacker.

Ohio State starting RB still dealing with hamstring injury but expects to play in opener

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Ohio State’s newish looking offense is expected to lean on the ground game early in 2017 but a key cog in that machinery might not be 100 percent healthy heading into the Buckeyes’ opener against Indiana.

Starting tailback Mike Weber has dealt with a lingering hamstring injury he suffered over the summer and hasn’t participated at all in the team’s preseason camp. Despite that bit of concerning news, it seems both the running back and the coaching staff is expecting him to be good to go in less than two weeks when the team kicks off the 2017 campaign.

“I’m getting close,” Weber said Friday, according to Cleveland.com. “They’ve been holding me back all camp to make sure I don’t have problems with it during the season. … I talk to the trainer a lot and it’s looking pretty good. I’m not at full speed yet, but I’m going to get there and I should be ready for the first game.”

Weber rushed for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns last year as a redshirt freshman and will see an increased load carrying the ball with Curtis Samuel off to the NFL. True freshman J.K. Dobbins has apparently slid into the backup role but running backs coach Tony Alford told reporters that the starting job is Weber’s when it comes time to go against the Hoosiers.

We’ll see if that eventually holds up given how finicky hamstring injuries are for tailbacks but at least the prognosis is good enough that Buckeyes fans can breathe a little easier as camp winds down in Columbus.