With quarterback Everett Golson making a triumphant return to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this fall and reclaiming his starting job after serving a season-long suspension in 2013, many thought the academic issues were over in South Bend. But according to reports, the university has been conducting an investigation over the summer that could lead to four key players being dismissed from the program this fall for academic fraud. If true, the Irish could be looking at a very long and disappointing 2014 season.
According to Pat Forde and Yahoo Sports, the school has been investigating possible “honor code violations” for some members of the football team that could lead to those players being ruled ineligible. While the school has not officially released the names of the players linked to the investigation, rumors have circulated that they include wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive end Ishaq Williams, and linebacker Kendall Moore. Those rumors gained traction on Friday when all four players were conspicuously absent from practice.
If these players are found to have committed academic fraud, it will have far-reaching consequences for the Irish. Daniels, who just returned from a semester-long suspension for a separate academic issue, Russell, and Williams were all expected to be starters for the team this fall with Moore being a key reserve on defense. Losing their talents this close to the start of the season will be a severe blow to the Irish heading into the season.
But that might not be the worst of it. There are also rumblings that this investigation could lead to vacated wins for Notre Dame for using players who were ineligible at the time. Both Daniels and Russell were significant players during Notre Dame’s 2012 season when they went 12-0 before losing to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the BCS National Championship Game. All of those wins could be wiped out and major black mark left on the reputation of the Irish.
As the findings of the investigation get made public, we’ll have more information on the future of these players and the fate of the Notre Dame program heading into 2014. Will the Irish be able to overcome an academic scandal of this magnitude without four key players this fall?