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Football

Brian Kelly addresses academic investigation

| Saturday, August 16, 2014

Irish head coach Brian Kelly spoke publicly about Notre Dame’s investigation into “suspected academic dishonesty” for the first time Saturday following the morning practice inside Notre Dame Stadium.

Kelly said he was notified Thursday by Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick of an investigation into “academic improprieties.” Irish senior receiver DaVaris Daniels, graduate student linebacker Kendall Moore, junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell and senior defensive end Ishaq Williams are being held out of practice and competition during the ongoing investigation.

“For me, my emotions were shock and disappointment at the time,” Kelly said.

The head coach did not provide many more details on the investigation but did say he won’t be involved in it. Kelly referred to himself as a “bystander” during the process and said he has not been interviewed by investigators and doesn’t expect to be.

“It’s a privilege to play at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “It’s not a right. And we hold our players to a very high standard at Notre Dame. I believe Notre Dame to be vigilant on that end. We don’t say one thing and do the other. I’m proud of Notre Dame in the way that they act. We don’t look the other way. If we find improprieties as it relates to this matter, we’re going to address them and deal with them.”

In the past two years, Notre Dame has dealt with multiple high-profile academic issues. Senior quarterback Everett Golson was suspended in the fall 2013 semester for what he called “poor academic judgment,” and Daniels missed the 2014 spring semester due to academics, as well.

“I applaud the University for doing that,” Kelly said. “Now, along the way, I’ve lost a starting quarterback and some key players. But I came here because I wanted to be associated with a university that had those standards.”

University President Fr. John Jenkins and Swarbrick offered their support of Kelly on Friday.

“This isn’t the time to have a debate on what my leadership or lack thereof is,” Kelly said. “My focus is on my football team.”

Kelly and the Irish have just two weeks until they begin their season against Rice on Aug. 30. He made clear he doesn’t want to “jump the gun” and indict the four players. But Kelly said Notre Dame is preparing to face the Owls without Daniels, Moore, Russell and Williams.

The four players will be welcome in the Guglielmino Athletics Complex and are able to eat with the team, according to Kelly, but the quartet won’t be at practice, play in games or participate in meetings for the time being.

“I care deeply about the four young men,” Kelly said. “But I’ve got a job to do. And I’ve got another 100 players that I have to be concerned with.”

Quick hits

Freshman tight end Tyler Luatua and sophomore tight end Durham Smythe were not in pads. Sophomore tight end Mike Heuerman (hernia surgery) was in pads and practicing.

Sophomore Isaac Rochell slid into the starting defensive spot typically held by Williams. Sophomore Cole Luke handled the majority of the first-team reps at cornerback in place of Russell.

The first-team offensive line, from left to right, was junior Ronnie Stanley, senior Matt Hegarty, senior Nick Martin, graduate student Christian Lombard and sophomore Steve Elmer.

Sophomore linebacker James Onwualu saw time on the first-team defense with fellow linebackers Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith.

Sophomore defensive lineman Jacob Matuska, sophomore linebacker Doug Randolph and freshman receiver Justin Brent were not in pads.

Notre Dame is scheduled to return to practice Monday morning.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike