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February 14, 2013

Slaughter denied sixth year

Jamoris Slaughter sat in the stands of SunLife Stadium two days before the BCS National Championship Game, hopeful about his chances to return to play for Notre Dame next season.

Six weeks later that outward optimism was officially dashed.

On Thursday, Notre Dame announced that the NCAA had denied Slaughter's final appeal for the sixth-year of eligibility, ending his college career. The NCAA decision was handed down yesterday.

"I understood that a sixth year was far from a guarantee," Slaughter said in a statement. "It is sad to know that my time at Notre Dame as a football player is complete, but it doesn't lessen my love for this University and its football program. This decision simply begins the next chapter of my life and I'll be forever grateful for my coaches, teammates and all the Irish fans that supported me throughout my career."

The case for Slaughter's return hinged on his two season-ending injuries, which appeared to open the door for a comeback in South Bend. Slaughter tore his Achilles tendon against Michigan State last season. He also suffered a meniscus injury during the Under Armour All-American Game after his senior year at Tucker High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. That injury led to a red shirt in 2008.

If granted a return, Slaughter would have started at the back of Notre Dame's secondary, which already lost Zeke Motta to graduation. Slaughter was ably replaced by Matthias Farley in late September and likely would have joined the rising junior on the first team next fall.

Slaughter finishes his Notre Dame career with 98 total tackles, four tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Slaughter said last month that he wouldn't be able to return to action for another five months, which eliminates the NFL Combine and Pro Day at Notre Dame. At the time of the national championship game, Slaughter said he'd yet to resume running.

Slaughter returned to Notre Dame after the national championship game and had enrolled for the second semester, beginning work toward a graduate degree over the next two semesters. He had been working out with the team.

The appeals process proved long for Notre Dame, beginning during the fall semester. The University expected a decision almost a month ago. Head coach Brian Kelly hoped to hear before National Signing Day, as Slaughter's potential return affected Notre Dame's scholarship numbers.

Without Slaughter, Notre Dame could again be under the 85-man limit if offensive tackle Tate Nichols continues toward a medical scholarship. The safety's absence could also open the door for kicker Nick Tausch to return for a fifth year.

Tausch entered last season as Notre Dame's starting kicker, but injury knocked him out of the lineup after the opener against Navy. Kyle Brindza staged a record-setting sophomore season from there.

"I appreciate the NCAA taking the time to thoroughly look into Jamoris' application for a sixth year,"  Kelly said in a statement. "Jamoris is a first-class young man and most importantly leaves Notre Dame with his degree. We wish him all the best as he now pursues his dream of playing in the NFL." 

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