An imbroglio that slammed headfirst into the Notre Dame football program yesterday had the same initial impact on its head coach.
As you have no doubt heard by now, four members of the Irish football program — thee starters, one key reserve — have been suspended from the team pending the outcome of an investigation into academic fraud. Brian Kelly was alerted to the situation during a Thursday meeting with athletic director Jack Swarbrick.
Saturday, Kelly addressed the media for the first time and was, of course, immediately asked about the situation.
“My emotions were shock and disappointment at the time,” Kelly said when asked what he felt upon first learning of the probe.
The four players — wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, linebacker Kendall Moore, cornerback KeiVarae Russell and defensive end Ishaq Williams — remain enrolled in school but are not permitted to take part in any football activities with the team. Kelly revealed that he has not yet talked to any of the players involved, but expects to do so within the next 24 hours or so.
As for the players’ futures at the school?
Notre Dame football has long prided itself on doing things “the right way,” an image that was dented, some would say severely, with the news that broke yesterday. While that image took a hit, Kelly continued to espouse the virtues to which the university in general and the football program in particular clings.
“It’s a privilege to play at Notre Dame, not a right. We don’t say one thing and do another. I’m proud of Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “There are no shortcuts in what we do. You can’t win taking shortcuts.”
Kelly added that he has not been interviewed as part of the investigation and doesn’t expect to be going forward. He also confirmed that no other current Irish football players are under investigation.
The investigation is weeks away from completion, if not months, which means that all four players will most certainly miss the season opener against Rice. The Irish also have games against Michigan (Sept. 6), Stanford (Oct. 4), North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Florida State (Oct. 18) in the first month and a half of the season, a tough stretch that won’t be helped if all or part of the quartet is still sidelined.