Tag: Jack Swarbrick

Kelly Swarbrick Jenkins

Swarbrick’s not ready to talk about 13th game


After watching TCU and Baylor get jumped by Ohio State after the Buckeyes rolled Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship, Big 12 conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby openly wondered if his conference was hurt because it didn’t have a 13th game.

That worry—and the fact that the Big 12 is now likely pursuing legislation that would allow such an event to take place—has Notre Dame fans wondering about their place in the postseason, if the Irish get into a beauty pageant for one of the final spots in the four-team playoff.

Some Irish fans wonder if the lack of championship game means Notre Dame will eventually become full members in the ACC. Some are campaigning for an annual faceoff with Hawaii (sign me up).

And Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has heard all the concerns. He spoke with ESPN’s Heather Dinich about the situation, not exactly worried about the future implications.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of letters I get from fans with proposals on how to get a 13th game,” Swarbrick told ESPN from the College Football Playoff spring meetings. “It’s just crazy. All of them have one common feature about them: There’s not a chance in hell the other school or conference would be willing to do it. Honest to goodness, I get the most creative letters on this topic; it’s crazy.”

At a time of year where little topics have no choice but to become big stories, the worry of exclusion is now the topic de jour, finding a root in Irish fans deepest worry—being stuck on the outside looking in if Notre Dame happens to have one less victory than other CFB Playoff contenders.

Not surprisingly, Swarbrick takes the long view on the subject. It’s no surprise that one of the principal architects of the CFB Playoff isn’t ready to jump to any conclusions after the first season of the wildly successful format.

“It’s not that there’s a 13th game,” Swarbrick explained. “It’s always going to be against a really good opponent. It’s the conference championship game. It’s not the aggregate number, it’s who you’re playing.

“There are going to be years where a team looks like they’re going to get in and gets upset in their conference championship game and they don’t get in. Did the 13th game help them? No. I’m not saying that’s a reason to do it or not do it, I’m just saying one year’s worth of experience with this system is way too small to draw any conclusions about how it will play out over time.”


Both Swarbrick and Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly talk about scheduling often, acknowledging Irish independence as a major reason why Notre Dame doesn’t hide from playing one of the most challenging schedules in the nation. So while Big 12 fans point to the last weekend of the season, they should be just as likely to question some of the cupcake non-conference games both teams scheduled.

With playoff hopes sky high for Notre Dame in 2015, a schedule that features an opening stretch against Texas, Virginia and Georgia Tech, and also has the Irish facing off with Clemson, USC and Stanford shouldn’t be much of a worry.

As Swarbrick is all but saying, win the football games and the rest will take care of itself.

Kelly hits the recruiting trail to bring back Stanley and Day

Notre Dame v Syracuse

Say this for Brian Kelly. He learns from his mistakes.

And after losing Stephon Tuitt and Troy Niklas after just three seasons in South Bend, Notre Dame’s head coach made sure he had a final say before Ronnie Stanley and Sheldon Day made their stay-or-go decision.

Kelly hit the road over winter break to make sure his best two seniors understood how badly the Irish coaching staff wanted them to return next season, and — just as important — how it would be in their best interest to do so.

Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman has more, including quotes from Kelly on the recruiting trips the Irish head coach — and a caravan including assistant coaches and athletic director Jack Swarbrick — took to both Stanley and Day’s homes.

“I’ve had great success keeping Michael Floyd here, keeping Tyler Eifert here, keeping Manti Te’o here and then last year I was disappointed about one of our players not staying,” Kelly told Fox Sports. “I was not going to leave it up to fate anymore that somebody would understand from my perspective that you should stay for these reasons. I was gonna get on the road and make sure we did this.”

For Stanley, that meant bringing Harry Hiestand to Las Vegas and connecting the junior offensive tackle with Dallas Cowboys All-Pro rookie Zack Martin. It also meant bringing an academic advisor along to help better understand the timing of things like OTAs and an academic plan that’ll have him ready for graduation after next season.

For Day, it meant a visit from Mike Elston and Paul Longo. It also meant an apples to apples comparison with former Pitt star Aaron Donald, who Irish fans have already deemed the optimal prototype for the undersized defensive tackle.

“Our strength coach was with us on that one because we wanted to look at some numbers from the Combine that we wanted to make him aware of,” said Kelly. “We felt like we wanted to get him into (former Pitt All-American) Aaron Donald’s numbers. It was, ‘Right now let’s say four teams really like you. If you start hitting these physical numbers, we think 20 teams are gonna really like you, and that’s the net benefit for you.'”

More important than any sales pitch was another option Notre Dame was offering. An insurance policy the university would pay for that would cover any loss of value, a commitment that Swarbrick himself gave to both players.

At a school that’s promoting a 40-year decision, adding success stories like Stanley and Day is crucial to the recruiting message to other elite prospects hoping to have the chance to play at the next level. Adding an All-American like Stanley to the “Notre Dame graduate” list continues to separate the Irish from other programs that look more like football factories.

On the field, bringing back this duo is just as critical. After seeing holes in the depth chart after early departures ripped some key building blocks off the 2014 roster, hitting the road and protecting his own roster is just as key to building the 2015 team as finishing the recruiting class strong.

Do yourself a favor and read Feldman’s complete story here.

Future ACC schedules come into focus

Jack Swarbrick

With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.

While we already knew the 2014-16 schedule, locking into place matchups through 2025 allows Notre Dame’s athletic department to begin hunting down new opponents — and hopefully bringing back some old ones — as scheduling in the playoff era takes shape.

“Nine additional seasons of games against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents again adds both variety and quality to future University of Notre Dame football schedules,” Swarbrick said in a statement.

The Irish will average five ACC games over these years, with four games played in 2014, 2022 and 2024 and six games in 2015, 2019 and 2023. Four programs that have never played in Notre Dame Stadium will visit, with Louisville set for later this year, North Carolina State visiting in 2017, Virginia in 2018 and Virginia Tech in 2016. The Irish will also make their first visits to those campuses, and return to Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest, places they’ve only played once.

In 2015, Notre Dame’s new scheduling arrangement will be the first year in a century to not have a Big Ten team on the slate, with the conference reappearing in 2016 against Michigan State. The Irish will instead welcome Texas to the schedule in back to back seasons, followed by a two-game series in 2017 and 2019 with Georgia.

Here are the ACC dates moving forward:



  1. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium (Sept. 27) *
  2. North Carolina at Notre Dame (Oct. 11)
  3. Notre Dame at Florida State (Oct. 18)
  4. Louisville at Notre Dame (Nov. 22)


  1. Notre Dame at Virginia (Sept. 12)
  2. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (Sept. 19)
  3. Notre Dame at Clemson (Oct. 3)
  4. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh (Nov. 7)
  5. Wake Forest at Notre Dame (Nov. 14)
  6. Notre Dame vs. Boston College at Fenway Park (Nov. 21) @


  1. Duke at Notre Dame (Sept. 24)
  2. Notre Dame vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium (Oct. 1) *
  3. Notre Dame at North Carolina State (Oct. 8)
  4. Miami at Notre Dame (Oct. 29)
  5. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (Nov. 19)


  1. Notre Dame at Boston College (Sept. 16)
  2. Notre Dame at North Carolina (Oct. 7)
  3. North Carolina State at Notre Dame (Oct. 28)
  4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame (Nov. 4)
  5. Notre Dame at Miami (Nov. 11)


  1. Syracuse at Notre Dame (Sept. 22)
  2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech (Oct. 13)
  3. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame (Oct. 20)
  4. Florida State at Notre Dame (Nov. 10)
  5. Notre Dame at Wake Forest (Nov. 17)


  1. Notre Dame at Louisville (Sept. 2/Labor Day)
  2. Virginia at Notre Dame (Sept. 28)
  3. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (Oct. 19)
  4. Virginia Tech at Notre Dame (Nov. 2)
  5. Notre Dame at Duke (Nov. 9)
  6. Boston College at Notre Dame (Nov. 23) 


  1. Notre Dame at Wake Forest
  2. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
  3. Duke at Notre Dame
  4. Clemson at Notre Dame
  5. Louisville at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at Florida State (Sept. 6/Labor Day)
  2. Notre Dame at Virginia Tech
  3. North Carolina at Notre Dame
  4. Notre Dame at Virginia
  5. Georgia Tech at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at North Carolina
  2. Notre Dame at Syracuse
  3. Boston College at Notre Dame
  4. Clemson at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at North Carolina State
  2. Notre Dame at Duke
  3. Notre Dame at Louisville
  4. Wake Forest at Notre Dame
  5. Notre Dame at Clemson
  6. Pittsburgh at Notre Dame


  1. Miami at Notre Dame
  2. Notre Dame at Georgia Tech
  3. Florida State at Notre Dame
  4. Virginia at Notre Dame


  1. Notre Dame at Miami
  2. North Carolina State at Notre Dame
  3. Notre Dame at Boston College
  4. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh
  5. Syracuse at Notre Dame


With academic probe complete, Notre Dame releases statement, but not fate of players

Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick

With Notre Dame’s academic investigation closed and the Honor Code committee meetings completed as of Friday, the fate of football players DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams will be determined sometime next week.

But for those expecting some gigantic statement out of the university, it’s not happening.

On Sunday afternoon, Paul J. Browne,  the university’s vice president for public affairs and communications, released a carefully parsed statement that will likely serve as the last official word from the university about the academic investigation and Honor Code process that’s had more attention on it in the past two months than ever before.

The statement is packed full, and has largely been misinterpreted this Sunday morning. So let’s go through a few key points before laying out the statement in full.


The players are being withheld from competition because of the investigation of NCAA violations, with the threat of vacating wins the major remaining issue. 

Notre Dame’s 5-0 start wouldn’t be worth much if Brian Kelly and the university found out players that took the field were ineligible to compete. That’s ultimately why the five student-athletes have been withheld from football activities, and why Notre Dame continues to acknowledge that NCAA sanctions, if necessary, will be voluntarily imposed and reported to the NCAA.

That the university will vacate wins isn’t an assumption that’s fair to make. Looking back at two recent, high profile academic investigations that involved the NCAA, North Carolina and Florida State are the best guide. The Tar Heels vacating all 16 wins from the 2008 and 2009 football seasons after improper benefits and academic misconduct was discovered. The academic misconduct involved a now fired department chairman, Julius Nyang’oro, and his department manager, who presided over independent study classes in the AFAM Department.

At Florida State, Bobby Bowden was forced to vacate 12 victories from 2006 and 2007, part of the penalty after academic fraud was discovered to have involved 61 student-athletes. The scandal also forced the men’s basketball team, the baseball team, the women’s basketball team and a national championship in men’s track and field to be vacated. Scholarships were stripped from 10 Seminoles teams. According to the New York Times, that fraud included not just students and student-athletes, but a learning specialist, an academic advisor and a tutor who took tests and wrote papers.


From what’s already been publicly stated, Notre Dame’s situation doesn’t include misconduct from any employees involved in academic support. 

This should be a very important part of any NCAA ruling and could be what keeps this from being an issue that demands vacating victories. While the North Carolina and Florida State situations involved members of the faculty or academic support systems at the university, Notre Dame’s does not.

From what we’ve heard from university president Rev. John Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick, the investigation’s findings don’t implicate anybody in that realm, but rather focus on the behavior of one paid student employee of the athletic department. Multiple sources have told me that this person served as a student athletic trainer for the football team.

Here’s what Jenkins told faculty in mid-September, according to an Observer Report:

[Jenkins] said the athletic department’s compliance office became aware of “a potentially problematic situation involving a current student athlete as well as a student who served for a brief time as a paid student employee of the athletic department, although that position had no role in academic tutoring or advising of student athletes.”

“I want to underscore that the current investigation has not revealed any misconduct or knowledge of impropriety by regular, full-time staff,” he said. “However, given the student’s brief status as a paid employee, there was the possibility of what the NCAA considers an ‘excess benefit’ given to the student athlete by a representative of the institution.”

Again, nothing has been decided yet, nor announced. But there’s quite a difference between what is alleged to have happened at Notre Dame and what happened at Florida State and North Carolina.


Because of some complexities this case wasn’t treated like a standard Honor Code violation. 

Browne’s statement spoke repeatedly about the complexities of this case. Those complexities involved a full investigation from the Office of the General Counsel, as well as the NCAA involvement already discussed.

But Browne mentions the added complexity of “multiple disciplines,” potentially meaning that the suspected Honor Code violations took place in a variety of schools, for instance the business college as well as the college of Arts and Letters.

That crossover — as well as the review of extensive exhibits compiled during the legal dig — forced a more comprehensive process. According to Browne’s statement, that included witness interviews, a faculty reporter to review voluminous materials and comprehensive honesty committees.


In the closest thing we’ll see to an acknowledgement, the university statement acknowledges their timeline and the five football players stuck in limbo. 

Late last week, the Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper, released an Op-Ed that called for clear Honor Code, taking to task the university’s administration for their handling of the current investigation.

These well-written paragraphs strike to the heart of the issue for students and members of the Notre Dame community.

The one constant since the investigation was announced has been that no one really knows much about the proceedings. Sure, head football coach Brian Kelly addresses it every week in his press conferences, and Jenkins made reference to it in his address to the University’s faculty last month.

But we have about as much insight into the Honor Code process as we did before the players were withheld, and our efforts to learn more about it have proved largely fruitless.

We’ve been directed to a webpage listing the members of the University Code of Honor Committee, which has not been updated for this academic year. We’ve looked at a Code of Honor Handbook that dates back to 2011 and may no longer be in use. Requests to learn more about the Honor Code process have been denied, despite a clause in Handbook that states, “Each member of the committee may be approached for consultation or advice about the Code of Honor by any member of the Notre Dame community.” Hugh Page, associate provost, dean of the First Year of Studies and Honor Code Committee co-chair, declined to comment on requests for an updated committee roster or for clarification of the text of the Code.

The Honor Code itself is one way in which the University upholds its values. The University could use this opportunity to show how the Honor Code does its job, but it instead seems intent on keeping everything except the players’ identities under close wraps.

And that, to us, raises another academic issue — a lack of transparency on a campus that should be open to creating dialogue. The players themselves seem to not know how the hearings process works. And we, their peers, have no way to know if the process is operating along the parameters the Honor Code outlines. We understand why certain specific details on the case should be kept confidential to protect those involved – but we also think that total opacity on any question involving the Honor Code creates an unhealthy, unproductive climate for students.

For the past two months, the university has repeatedly turned down requests for comments and directed people to the school’s website (they do in today’s statement as well), a document that the Observer rightly points out hasn’t been updated since 2011 (though on Sunday afternoon, the Observer’s editor-in-chief Ann Marie Jakubowski notes that the document was updated this weekend).

But after a relatively tone-deaf approach to this situation for the past two months, Browne’s statement includes the following olive branch.

“The process is time-consuming because it is thorough, as it must be to ensure integrity and fairness. Having said that, we recognize it can be difficult for students, regardless of culpability, who are subject to such reviews, especially when public scrutiny becomes so magnified for those who are student-athletes. We are working to resolve these situations as quickly as possible.”

That the apology comes after such a thorough takedown by the voice of the student body is no surprise. Also, as the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Hine notes, a Board of Trustees meeting took place this weekend. Hine tweeted that multiple sources told him that “trustees were not thrilled with timeline of investigation.”


What happens now? 

As the statement reads, unless Notre Dame reports something to the NCAA, life will go forward without any official statement from the school. That’s largely because of FERPA privacy laws, making it next to impossible to discuss the private disciplinary matters of the school.

So that once again leaves Notre Dame’s football coach to be the unofficial spokesman for the administration. In all likelihood, we’ll find out who gets to play and who doesn’t during Brian Kelly’s Tuesday press conference, when the media will ask him, or when one of the five football players takes to Twitter or other social media microphones to announce their collective fate.

When asked Sunday during his weekly teleconference what he plans to do as he now considers how to reintegrate as many as five players back onto the football team, Kelly hasn’t had the luxury of giving it much thought.

“I’m probably going to have to spend some time today thinking about it because I really have not given it much thought,” Kelly acknowledged on Sunday. “I do have to begin to think about reintegrating, and obviously I’m sure a decision is going to be made. I probably won’t reintegrate until I get a decision on each guy, and hopefully that will come soon. Once that decision’s made on each one of them, we’re going to have to have a plan on reintegrating all of the players or those players that I can.”

Thankfully, we’re almost done with this process.



Statement from Paul J. Browne, vice president for public affairs and communications at the University of Notre Dame:

On August 15 the Office of General Counsel of the University of Notre Dame notified the NCAA that because of potential ineligibility issues, the University was withholding from football participation certain student-athletes as part of an inquiry into possible academic dishonesty involving several other students as well. The NCAA was also informed that upon the start of the academic year later in the month, appropriate University committees would meet to develop review processes consistent with the Undergraduate Academic Code of Honor.

Often, an academic honesty review involves one student and one academic department. Due to the complexity of cases involving multiple disciplines, Comprehensive Honesty Committees were impaneled to review memoranda and extensive exhibits compiled in connection with the General Counsel’s initial inquiry, interview witnesses and the subjects of the hearings, and potentially impose sanctions subject to appeal. A faculty reporter was also appointed to review voluminous material collected during the General Counsel’s investigation to identify cases for the Comprehensive Committees’ review.

Hearings for those withheld from football were completed on Friday.  Decisions will be communicated individually to affected student-athletes and other students alike, as deliberations on each case conclude. As with other student academic records, the results of the review are confidential, and the University will not disclose them, although affected students may if they so choose. If it is determined that student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily impose appropriate sanctions, report our findings to the NCAA, and await its independent review.

The principal purpose of the Honor Code process (see http://honorcode.nd.edu/) is to educate our students as to the importance of academic integrity.  The process is time-consuming because it is thorough, as it must be to ensure integrity and fairness.  Having said that, we recognize it can be difficult for students, regardless of culpability, who are subject to such reviews, especially when public scrutiny becomes so magnified for those who are student-athletes. We are working to resolve these situations as quickly as possible.

With all eyes watching, a dig for truth begins at Notre Dame

Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick

The college football world stared at Notre Dame on Friday. Some snickered as they hoped to see smoke and fire emerge from the Golden Dome. Irish fans braced for impact, with even the most level-headed dreading impending doom, with things getting worse by the minute as Notre Dame brass stayed silent.

Early reports looked ugly. And while they didn’t — or haven’t yet — turned out to be correct, the latest academic blunder coming from a football program aspiring to carry the torch for doing things the right way on and off the field could do seismic damage.

At this point, it’s too early to tell. Credit Notre Dame’s administration for doing the right thing early, alerting the NCAA to their investigation and holding four players out of practice and games until they do more digging. So while that takes place, the facts of the current state of affairs are worth presenting.

“Several students” are part of the academic investigation, with four current members of the team. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick acknowledged that DaVaris DanielsKendall MooreKeiVarae Russell, and Ishaq Williams were indeed the student-athletes in question, confirming multiple media reports.

If we are to believe Dan Murphy at BlueandGold.com, as many as 22 former football players could be involved. Head coach Brian Kelly was alerted to the investigation on Thursday, news that “devastated” the Irish coach, Swarbrick acknowledged.

Evidence turned up at the end of summer semester, with classes ending July 25 and final grades/graduation taking place on August 3rd. Kelly kicked off spring practice on Friday, August 1 with an opening press conference, where he stated all of his players were in good academic standing.

The head coach didn’t know that as his team heading to Culver Military Academy, an academic probe had been handed over to compliance and then to the university’s office of general counsel. With all four players involved in the probe participating in practice earlier this week, the news surely landed as another gut punch to a head coach whose best players can’t seem to avoid making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

(The surprise also carries over to the players’ families. Per Pete Sampson at Irish Illustrated, the fathers of Moore and Williams had heard nothing from the school. As of Friday night, the family of DaVaris Daniels hasn’t, either.)

While it’s difficult to do, the presumption of innocence is probably worth attempting. But in the viral wasteland that is Twitter-based reporting, let’s put aside the fact that university president Rev. John Jenkins and Swarbrick vehemently denied that any player has been dismissed or any judgment has been passed.

“Nobody has been dismissed,” Jenkins said. “We will take as long as it takes to have a thorough and fair investigation and proceed through our academic honor code process.”

The disciplinary process at Notre Dame is notoriously secretive. And while progress has been made from the draconian days of the fairly recent past (remember the leniency granted Michael Floyd?), hoping for an expedited process for an academic issue that could go back a few years might be a pipe dream.

After a day spent chasing rumors and shadows — each more sordid than the last, listening to Swarbrick and Jenkins provided a calm that was difficult to comprehend. Sure, things were bad. But after years (maybe even decades) of wondering about the decision-making process at the university, it’s clear that grownups are handling things. The results of their findings might be ugly, but the search for truth will not be.

But even if Notre Dame’s two most important administrators did their best to make sure the assembled media understood this situation was an isolated incident, it’s hard not to connect some rather ugly dots.

Quarterback Everett Golson became a national story for his academic suspension. Basketball standout Jerian Grant suffered a similar fate, forced off the court for another academic impropriety. The Irish hockey team lost Robbie Russo, one of their best players, in a situation that looked mighty similar.

As Notre Dame pushes to compete at the highest level of college football, the university has gotten more aggressive in their acceptance of prospective student-athletes with questionable academic profiles. And it’s hard not to jump to conclusions when athletes like Tee Shepard, Eddie Vanderdoes, Golson, Daniels and now this quartet bubble to the surface.

That’s why it’s worth re-reading part of Jenkins’ statement, released earlier today.

“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,” Jenkins said, in part. “We are also examining ways of better conveying to students that they can avail themselves of legitimate academic assistance without resorting to cheating.”

The resources have been committed, with Adam Sargent,the associate director in Notre Dame’s Academic Services for Student Athletes, among the most respected and above reproach people on campus. But ultimately the push and pull between advancing the academic profile of the university and holding blue-chip student-athletes to those standards might prove impossible.

The tragedy of it all is that 2012 served as a rallying cry for those that believed the balance could still exist. But that magical season could go up in smoke as a result of this investigation, with Notre Dame acknowledging that they’ll vacate victories if players are retroactively found to be ineligible.

For now, we wait. For the truth, for an internal investigation, and for the ripple effect that’ll likely be felt on the field, in the locker room, and in every building under the Dome.

But with the leadership of the university still standing strongly behind their head coach and his process, Jenkins did his best to put things into perspective, sounding (maybe ironically) like a father speaking of his college-aged sons.

“At any university you’re dealing with young people. The vast majority of them make good decisions,” Jenkins said. “But young people sometimes make bad decisions. Our job is to hold them accountable and to use those incidents as ways to educate them. That’s what we’re doing.”