The NCAA said Notre Dame will have to vacate wins from its 2012 BCS Championship Game season and the 2013 season because a student trainer did classwork for two football players.
According to the NCAA’s statement released Tuesday, the trainer “completed coursework” for the two players. In addition to the improper assistance for the two unnamed players, the trainer also “provided impermissible academic assistance to six additional football student-athletes in a total of 18 classes.”
The NCAA’s Public Infractions Decision notes the school was notified of potential penalties including a $5,000 fine, public reprimand and censure, a show-cause penalty for the trainer and vacation of the team’s records from 2012 and 2013 on July 5.
Notre Dame said later that month that it wanted to contest the “vacation of institutional and head coaching records” via an expedited hearing. The hearing was held in September. The school said it would be appealing the decision via a statement because the NCAA “has never before vacated the records of an institution that had no involvement in the underlying academic misconduct.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly also repeated those sentiments when asked about the academic misconduct at his Tuesday press conference.
“Zero,” Kelly said when asked if he had any responsibility for the allegations.
“None. Absolutely none.”
Notre Dame finished the 2012 regular season undefeated and lost the BCS Championship Game to Alabama. The Irish were 9-4 in 2013. The 2012 vacation of wins comes via one of the two players who had coursework completed by the trainer. The unnamed player committed academic misconduct in eight classes ranging from the 2011 spring semester to the 2012 fall semester. He played in 12 games in 2012.
The other player had violations in two classes, one in the fall of 2012 and one in the spring of 2013. He played in 12 games in 2013. The two players would have been permanently ineligible by the NCAA after the improprieties.
The school’s statement said the violations were discovered in 2014 — approximately three years after the fraud first occurred per the NCAA’s notice — and acted appropriately.
“We are disappointed in the actions of students who engaged in dishonesty, but we are gratified that the NCAA investigation confirmed the conclusions of our own internal investigation,” Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins said. “Notre Dame acted honorably throughout. As soon as professional staff suspected academic dishonesty on the part of a student, the matter was reported promptly, investigated aggressively and thoroughly, and conducted in accord with our Academic Code of Honor procedures and norms.”
Notre Dame said in September 2014 that it discovered four players had committed academic misconduct over the summer, including wide receiver DaVaris Daniels and cornerback KeiVarae Russell.
It argues that the vacation of wins unfairly punishes the school.
“We believe that imposition of the vacation of records penalty without serious underlying institutional misconduct will not primarily punish those responsible for the misconduct, but rather will punish coaches, student-athletes and indeed the entire institution who did nothing wrong and, with regard to this case, did everything right,” Jenkins said. “We are also concerned that establishing this precedent will infringe on universities’ autonomy in deterring academic dishonesty, for it will discourage the retroactive lowering of grades even when an honor code committee deems this appropriate.”
In addition to the vacated wins, the school was fined $5,000, reprimanded and put on a year’s probation. The trainer was given a two-year show-cause penalty and the school must disassociate with the trainer for two years.
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