In the words of noted Irish fan Homer Simpson, “Notre D’oh!”
With speculation bubbling just below the surface for weeks, Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reported Friday that four players — wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive end Ishaq Williams — have been dismissed from the football program. According to Feldman as well as Yahoo Sports‘ Pat Forde, all four were dismissed amidst academic fraud allegations.
That’s not exactly right.
The school released a statement Friday. It clarified that the students in question have been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Notre Dame also notified the NCAA of any potential violations.
“Integrity is at the heart of our mission and academic misconduct will not be tolerated at Notre Dame,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “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.
“The University is committed to thorough resolution of this matter, consistent with its commitment to academic integrity and adherence to NCAA rules.”
All three of the defensive players are starters or significant contributors, while Daniels is a starter on the other side of the ball, so the suspensions will have a significant and potentially devastating impact on the Irish moving forward.
Russell, a true junior, has started all 26 games during his two years in South Bend. A freshman All-American in 2012, Russell finished fifth in tackles last season, tops among all defensive backs. His work in pass coverage is superb, as evidenced by the fact that he led all Irish players in passes broken up (eight) and passes defensed (nine).
Russell is the only non-senior in the group.
Daniels’ 49 catches for 795 yards and seven touchdowns were all second on the team last season. He had been ND’s leading returning receiver.
This is not the first bit of academic trouble Daniels has run into recently. In January of this year, Daniels didn’t enroll in classes for the spring semester due to academic concerns. He was readmitted in May.
Williams has played in 24 games the past two seasons and is a starter this season, while Russell has played in all 39 games the past three seasons after redshirting as a true freshman.
Everett Golson, who started at quarterback during the Irish’s run to the BCS title game, suspended from the university for cheating on a final exam. He was reinstated in December of last year after missing the entire 2103 season, and was named the starting quarterback Thursday.