Notre Dame’s 2014 season was dealt a devastating blow when four Notre Dame Football players, Senior Wide Receiver DaVaris Daniels, Junior Cornerback KeiVarae Russell, Senior Defensive End Ishaq Williams and 5th-year Linebacker Kendall Moore, were dismissed for academic fraud. Their dismissal comes as a part of an internal academic probe that included athletes and non-athletes.
This story is not new to Notre Dame. Last year, Notre Dame dismissed starting Quarterback Everett Golson and star Shooting Guard Jerian Grant from the University. Both student-athletes were reinstated this year. It is unclear whether any of these players will return to Notre Dame. However, the likelihood that Daniels, Williams and Moore return are slim. Daniels was dismissed for the Spring semester for the same reasons.
Notre Dame puts a premium on academics. Many fans, critics and alumni state this as a sign that academics are slipping for student-athletes. To the contrary, it clearly shows that the University is not willing to make exceptions for some of its best players, like basketball’s Jerian Grant and football’s Daniels and Russell. Although these moments are difficult, it is important to remember that this is the reason many fans and student-athletes flock to Notre Dame. It is a University that is unwilling to comprise its academic integrity for a short term football gain.
As for on-the-field, this announcement creates several issues for the Fighting Irish. Daniels was slotted to be in the rotation and was most likely Notre Dame’s best receiver. However, the Irish likely have the depth to lessen the blow from this loss. The same goes for the Cornerback position. Russell may be a future NFL Draft pick in the first three rounds. However, Notre Dame has several Cornerbacks including Cody Riggs, Cole Luke, Devin Butler and Nick Watkins who can contribute at that position. Linebacker Kendall Moore was unlikely to see the field as a Linebacker. So, his loss only hurts on special teams where he was a solid contributor. The loss that may damage the Irish the most is Ishaq Williams. Notre Dame has limited depth along the front and they were depending on Williams to be a major contributor.