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NCAA denies Notre Dame’s appeal, vacating 21 wins, including 12-0 in 2012

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The NCAA denied Notre Dame’s appeal to maintain its 21 wins from 2012 and 2013, the NCAA announced Tuesday. The ruling stems from the academic violations of nine players during those seasons, eight of them with the assistance of a former student-athletic trainer.

Notre Dame’s argument hinged on there being no university involvement or knowledge of the academic misconduct. The NCAA does not dispute that wholesale, but since the student-trainer was considered a university employee under NCAA rules, that lumps the violations into a category usually resulting in vacated wins.

“We are deeply disappointed by and strongly disagree with the denial of the University’s appeal …,” Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins said in a statement. “Our concerns go beyond the particulars of our case and the record of two football seasons to the academic autonomy of our institutions, the integrity of college athletics, and the ability of the NCAA to achieve its fundamental purpose.”

As the academic violations came to light and were self-reported by Notre Dame in 2014, the Irish suspended five then-current players: DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Kendall Moore, Ishaq Williams and KeiVarae Russell. The University also set to recalculating the appropriate grades from years past. In doing so, it rendered certain players retroactively ineligible.

“In the curious logic of the NCAA, however, it is precisely the application of our Honor Code that is the source of the vacation of wins penalty, for the recalculation of grades in 2014 led to three student-athletes being deemed ineligible retroactively,” Jenkins said. “To impose a severe penalty for this retroactive ineligibility establishes a dangerous precedent and turns the seminal concept of academic autonomy on its head.

“At its best, the NCAA’s decision in this case creates a randomness of outcome based solely on how an institution chooses to define its honor code; at worst, it creates an incentive for colleges and universities to change their honor codes to avoid sanctions like that imposed here.”

Jenkins claims the ruling by the NCAA is unprecedented since there was no broader institutional involvement or lack of control.

“There is no precedent in previous NCAA cases for the decision to add a discretionary penalty of vacation of team records in a case of student-student cheating involving a part-time student worker who had no role in academic advising,” Jenkins wrote. “… The Committee simply failed to provide any rationale why it viewed the student-worker as an institutional representative in our case.”

Such a view was actually amended out of the academic misconduct rules in 2016, meaning student-trainers would not be considered institutional representatives.

Vacating the 12 wins from 2012 and the nine from 2013 drops Notre Dame’s all-time win total to 885 from 906 and its all-time winning percentage to .724 from .729. The Irish still stand at No. 2 in winning percentage, behind only Michigan, but that top spot will no longer be at stake in the 2018 season opener against the Wolverines on Sept. 1.

Jenkins’ full statement can be read here.

The NCAA’s announcement denying the appeal can be read here.

Notre Dame gets the letters: Kevin Austin and Micah Jones, four-star receivers

rivals.com

KEVIN AUSTIN

North Broward Prep; Pompano Beach, Fla.

Measurements: 6’3”, 185 lbs.

Accolades: Consensus four-star; No. 14 receiver in the class per rivals.com, No. 20 prospect in Florida and No. 81 in the country overall; Offense-Defense All-American.

Other Notable Offers: Austin narrowed his finalists down to Duke, Miami and Tennessee with Notre Dame prevailing while Clemson, Michigan, Oregon and many others chased the deep threat.

Projected Position: Receiver, possibly the field position, forcing a defense to devote a safety to over-the-top coverage.

Quick Take: Austin’s mix of good speed with overall athleticism makes his future a tantalizing one.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: Austin could force Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long to look his way early on, especially considering the inconsistent efforts from the Irish receivers this past season. The Florida recruit appears to offer just about every fundamental necessary.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: On the surface, Notre Dame’s receiver corps is a young one aside from current juniors Equanimeous St. Brown and Miles Boykin. A closer look reveals the obvious nature of how few of those receivers have offered genuine contributions, leaving the door wide open for Austin to step through. He will not usurp sophomores Kevin Stepherson or Chase Claypool, but he could complement them quite well.


(rivals.com)

Micah Jones

Warren Township High School; Gurnee, Ill.

Measurements: 6’5”, 205 lbs.

Accolades: Rivals.com four-star; No. 36 receiver in the country, No. 2 prospect in Illinois and No. 179 overall.

Other Notable Offers: Half the Big Ten chased Jones, including Michigan State, Iowa and Minnesota, while both Mississippi and Mississippi State showed interest.

Projected Position: Receiver, possibly the boundary position due to his ability to outmuscle most defensive backs.

Quick Take: Jones’ size and strong hands made him a priority for Notre Dame. In today’s version of football, no team can have enough receivers, but Jones is more than simply a fill-in.

Short-Term Roster Outlook: One of the two receivers is likely to spend 2018 preserving a year of eligibility, just given Irish coach Brian Kelly’s track record. Looking at Boykin and Claypool as comparable to Jones, at least in size, it seems likely he spends the year on the sideline.

Long-View Depth Chart Impact: A veritable size option on the outside has long been a necessity for Kelly (see: Michael Floyd, DaVaris Daniels, Claypool), even often relying on tight ends (see: Tyler Eifert) for that capacity. Jones should slide into that role at some point and then develop his utility to the offense from there.

Notre Dame and Temple a primetime start on ABC

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Another Notre Dame road game, another primetime kickoff. With Temple ranked for the first time since 1979, the Owls will host the Irish in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field at 8:00 p.m. ET on an ABC national broadcast.

The game is a sellout crowd, with Notre Dame drawing another large audience. As Pete Sampson pointed out, 69, 176 tickets have already been sold. Last week’s Temple game against UCF drew 31,372 fans.

Temple head coach Matt Rhule will be bringing a much different team to the game than the one that showed up to open Notre Dame’s 2013 season. The Irish jumped ahead early against the Owls with two first quarter Tommy Rees to DaVaris Daniels touchdowns, before coasting to a 28-6 win.

Rhule has also seen his star rise—the 40-year old served as Al Golden’s offensive coordinator before returning to replace Steve Addazio as the Owls’ head coach. Rhule won just two games in his first season, rallied to a 6-6 record in 2014 and has matched that win total already in 2015. He appears to be a top fit for a program like Maryland that’s already looking to replace Randy Edsall.

This year, the Owls are 6-0 on the season, including 3-0 in American conference play. They have a Top 10 statistical defense, giving up just 14.7 points a game so far this season. Temple opened the season with an eye-opening win over Penn State and has done nothing but win since.

The Owls will play at night against East Carolina this weekend before welcoming the Irish to the City of Brotherly Love on Halloween night.