Ishaq Williams‘ future at Notre Dame was thrown off course last August, when he and four teammates were caught up in an academic dishonesty case. Nine months later, the defensive end, a projected senior starter in 2014, appears to have some clarity on the school front, though his on-field future is still cloudy.
The South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen reports that Williams will be back on campus Monday to begin summer school. That means Williams’ re-admission into the university after a two-semester suspension appears to be complete.
What isn’t as certain is his return to the football field. With Notre Dame’s 85-man scholarship limit pushed to the brink, Williams return to Brian Kelly’s team—or his ability to be qualified academically to play—is still unclear.
While Kelly has spoken clearly about cornerback KeiVarae Russell’s return to both the field and university, Williams’ status is murkier. And without the details of what actually happened last August—student privacy laws and university policy have kept that under lock and key—it’s impossible to know what Williams’ situation actually is.
(Williams could be in a situation similar to the one that DaVaris Daniels reportedly found himself in, wanting to return to the football field, but unable to meet eligibility requirements after grades were adjusted.)
As Kelly himself pointed out in April, summer school could be part of the road back to eligibility, with his role on the team not necessarily solidified until fall camp.
“(There are) things that he’ll have to take care of in the summertime just to get the ball moving for his ability to be reinstated,” Kelly said back in April.
Making things even more interesting is news that Williams could potentially graduate from Notre Dame (something that’d likely take until the end of the fall semester) without playing for the Irish this fall. That scenario was thrown into the mix on Twitter, reportedly coming from a Brian Kelly talk to the ND Club of Miami.
That scenario sounds like it’d be a complete surprise to both Williams and his family. But with Williams’ eligibility clock technically still running last season, he has just this fall to complete his four seasons of on-field play.
The reality of the situation is that there isn’t necessarily a playbook for something this complicated, with too many variables for anything to be set in stone. A bursting-at-the-seams roster, a confusing eligibility situation and the process of readmission are all playing factors.
But getting Williams back on campus is the first step, and after a long layoff, that’s set to happen on Monday.