Notre Dame defends Kelly, process
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University President Rev. John I. Jenkins and Vice President/Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick served as the faces representing Notre Dame in the announcement of an administrative investigation into suspicions of academic dishonesty by four current Irish football players.
Until a full investigation is completed, KeiVarae Russell, DaVaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams and Kendall Moore will be held out of practice and game competition, a proclamation that came 15 days prior to the first game of the 2014 season.
"Integrity is at the heart of our mission as a university," said Jenkins in his introductory statement. "Academic dishonesty strikes at that heart. Academic misconduct has no place at a university."
Jenkins said there was evidence that the four football players submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others, which was initially detected at the end of the summer session and referred to the compliance office in athletics on July 29, which then precipitated an immediate investigation by the Office of General Counsel.
Jenkins was quick to point out that the student-athletes have not been declared guilty of wrongdoing.
"Let me emphasize something: At this juncture, no one has been judged responsible for academic dishonesty," Jenkins said. "No one has been dismissed from the university and no sanctions have been imposed or no judgment has been made yet."
Asked if the players had been suspended, Swarbrick said, "No. They remain students at the university, they remain grant-in-aid students, and they continue to have the benefits of being a grant-in-aid student."
Jenkins and Swarbrick also defended Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, who was first informed of the situation on Thursday, Aug. 14.
"I want to say right now that I have great confidence in Brian and his staff, and they have been nothing but supportive and helpful in our investigation," Jenkins said.
"There is no evidence that Brian Kelly and his coaches knew about this. The same way with the academic staff. Once an academic staff member had suspicions, it was immediately brought to our attention."
Swarbrick described Kelly's reaction to the news.
"Like all of us, he was devastated," Swarbrick said. "But he was also quick to understand the process and how he and his staff could be of assistance in the process, so that was quickly the focus of the discussion."
Jenkins said there was no timetable for a resolution.
"We'll go as quickly as we can, but our emphasis will be on thoroughness," Jenkins said. "We'll take as long as it takes to have a thorough and fair investigation through our honor code process."
While the University is determined to get to the bottom of the situation and that academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, Swarbrick sees the purported improprieties by the student-athletes as the exception to the rule at Notre Dame.
"For every misstep, we have hundreds of stories of young people coming here and succeeding and taking full advantage of the (Notre Dame) opportunity," Swarbrick said. "So we know it works."