Notre Dame is investigating possible academic fraud

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CNN) — Several University of Notre Dame students, including four football players, are being investigated over academic fraud allegations, the university said Friday.

Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick confirmed that the football players are wide receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive back KeiVarae Russell, defensive lineman Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore.

The four will be held out of practice and upcoming game action until the investigation is complete.

“Integrity is at the heart of our mission and academic misconduct will not be tolerated at Notre Dame,” university President the Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a statement. “If the suspected improprieties are proven, we will use the experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all that they do. We are also examining ways of better conveying to students that they can avail themselves of legitimate academic assistance without resorting to cheating.”

Notre Dame said in the statement it has evidence that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others. The university said this was detected at the end of the summer session and referred to the compliance office in athletics on July 29.

NCAA discussing how it deals with academic fraud

The school said if it determines that the football players were engaged in improprieties during past competition, it will vacate any victories in which those players participated. It notified the NCAA on Friday morning of the potential violations.

At a Friday news conference, Jenkins said, “It will take as long as it takes” to complete the investigation, but he wouldn’t give an estimated timetable. He said he was not prepared to say how many students were involved.

“We’ll go as quickly as we can, but our emphasis will be on thoroughness,” Jenkins said.

Swarbrick and Jenkins said head football coach Brian Kelly and his staff have been cooperating in the investigation. Jenkins added that there is no evidence that Kelly or his assistant coaches knew about the potential academic fraud.

“We have great confidence in Brian and his staff,” Jenkins said.

The students and student-athletes involved in the investigation will remain enrolled until the investigation is complete.

“The University is committed to thorough resolution of this matter, consistent with its commitment to academic integrity and adherence to NCAA rules,” Jenkins said.

CNN reached out to Notre Dame athletic department officials in an attempt to get statements from the football players, but the university did not immediately respond.

This isn’t the first time a member of the Irish football team has been linked to alleged academic improprieties.

Quarterback Everett Golson, a key member of the Irish team that went undefeated in the 2012 regular season and lost the BCS national championship game to Alabama, was dismissed from the school in May 2013 for what he called “poor academic judgment.” He was suspended for the fall semester. At the time, Golson did not release details on what led to his suspension.

Golson has since returned to Notre Dame and regained the Irish starting quarterback job earlier this week. He is not implicated in this academic fraud investigation.

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