Notre Dame football punished by NCAA for academic misconduct

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Notre Dame players and fans celebrate a 2012 victory over Michigan. (AP/Darron Cummings)

In a declaration that echoed from South Bend to every corner of the college football world, the NCAA on Tuesday ordered Notre Dame to vacate all 21 of its victories from the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel determined that a former student athletic trainer at the school “violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct for two football student-athletes and provided six other football student-athletes with impermissible academic extra benefits.” One other football player is said to have committed academic misconduct on his own.

Neither the former student trainer nor the players involved are named in the report (see it in full here), but they are believed to include DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams, who were suspended by the university August 2014 and not allowed to play that season.

According to the NCAA, the former trainer completed “numerous academic assignments for football student-athletes in numerous courses” from 2011 to 2013.

Notre Dame accepted additional penalties of one year’s probation, a two-year show-cause order and a $5,000 fine, but the school announced that it will appeal the vacation of wins. They include 12 from the 2012 season, when the Irish reached the national championship game.

Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins and football coach Brian Kelly both said Tuesday that no misconduct had been committed by the school.

Related: NCAA penalties just the latest of Notre Dame’s football problems

“The NCAA has never before vacated the records of an institution that had no involvement in the underlying academic misconduct,” the school wrote in an official statement.

“The penalty was based on misconduct by a former student. … She wrote papers for student-athletes, which was obviously unauthorized academic assistance. The University discovered the academic misconduct in 2014, and then addressed that misconduct through its honor code process. As a result, Notre Dame retroactively lowered grades of three student athletes who received improper assistance from the former student, giving them no academic credit that was not honestly earned.”

(Notre Dame’s complete statement can be seen here.)

Said Kelly at a Tuesday press conference: “It was student-on-student cheating. There was nobody (else) implicated. The NCAA agreed across the board with that finding, and it was clearly excessive. So, as you know, we’re going to appeal this.”

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

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