A starting quarterback, the team’s best returning wide receiver and even the school’s best basketball player all have something in common at Notre Dame. All three were kicked out of school for a semester for academic mishaps.
Everett Golson, DaVaris Daniels and Jerian Grant all were suspended from the university but all decided to come back to Notre Dame. Golson could have easily transferred to a lower division school and played without having to sit out a year.
Instead, he felt getting his degree from Notre Dame was important enough to sit out last season and return for the 2013 spring semester. Golson isn’t your average college quarterback; he also plays classical piano during his free time and even writes his own music.
Daniels was suspended for the spring semester of 2014 and has been readmitted into the university after also choosing not to transfer. Basketball star Grant was suspended from school right before the Irish entered into the ACC portion of their schedule. The team’s leader in scoring and assists could have entered into last April’s NBA draft or left to play overseas making large amounts of money but chose to return. Grant understood that a degree from Notre Dame can potentially make him more money in the long run than a couple years of playing professional ball in Europe.
As Lou Holtz used to say, and Brian Kelly now says when recruiting kids to the prestigious university: “You are not making a four-year decision by coming to Notre Dame. You are making a 40-year decision.” Notre Dame truly prepares their athletes for life after football.
Some schools are known for having their football players take general courses that don’t apply to a major just to keep their athletes eligible. Many times, the school knows the athlete has no chance of graduating but keeps them in these lower level classes to keep their GPAs up.
Surrounded by other money hungry universities that exploit their athletes for profit, the University of Notre Dame understands the correct role of college athletics. That role is to offer student-athletes a world-class education while teaching them the rewards of hard work and discipline on the athletic field.
While the three students showed incredibly poor judgment in getting suspended, the university displayed courage by not bending the rules for star athletes. While at the University of Florida, Cam Newton stole someone’s paper and was caught. When told to rewrite it, he purchased one online and got caught again. It took a stolen laptop for him to get kicked out of Florida.
The Notre Dame football team graduates 93 percent of its players according to the NCAA. The Fighting Irish are also No. 1 in total sports graduation rates with 20 out of 22 of their sports experiencing 100 percent graduation rates.
While Notre Dame has struggled on the field in recent years, they are not compromising their high academic standards. Alabama destroyed Notre Dame in the BCS championship game in 2013 on the field, but it would be interesting to know how many of Alabama’s players would have been accepted into Notre Dame.
Golson, Daniels and Grant will soon make money playing professional sports but getting their degree will be more beneficial. The average NFL career is less than four years and many NBA players file for bankruptcy down the road, but a degree from Notre Dame lasts a lifetime.
Notre Dame is the most loved football team as well as the most hated in the nation. Say what you want about the lack of wins, but let’s remember that they are one of a few universities doing things the right way. The next time you watch Jameis Winston struggle with the English language during a television interview, just remember there are a lot of legit student athletes out there who do great things in the classroom as well as on the athletic field. It just so happens that a lot of them are taking classes at the University of Notre Dame where they are held to higher standards.
Follow Matt Heinz on Twitter @MattHeinz_Rant for more college football opinions