For the second straight season, academic woes have rocked Notre Dame football.
This time though, the impact might make a much larger hit on the image of the program and the university as a whole.
Notre Dame is investigating suspected academic dishonesty on the part of several students, including four members of the football team, the school announced Friday.
The four football players – DaVaris Daniels, cornerback KeiVarae Russell, defensive lineman Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore – will be held out of practice and competition until the conclusion of an ongoing investigation.
Evidence that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others was detected at the end of the summer session. It was referred to the compliance office in athletics on July 29.
If the investigation shows that the players would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily vacate any victories in which they participated. The players remain enrolled through the investigation.
Three of the four were slated to start for the Irish this fall.
Daniels was the top returning wide receiver. He finished second on the team with 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013. Daniels missed the spring because of a suspension tied to academics. He returned to the program during the summer.
Russell was in line to become of the stars of the defense. He had a breakout game in the Pinstripe Bowl victory against Rutgers, finishing with two tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.
Russell had 51 tackles and 8 pass breakups in 2013. He appeared on two 2014 preseason watch lists for the best defensive player in the country.
Williams was penciled in as one of the starters up front. He made 17 tackles in 11 games in 2013. Moore made 17 tackles in 2013.
Last season, Notre Dame played without quarterback Everett Golson because of a suspension tied to academics. He returned to the program this spring and was officially named the starter for the season opener earlier this week.