Notre Dame Officials Investigate Fighting Irish Players, May Ruin Chances Of BCS Final Return

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Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly addressed his team during practice Friday in Davie, Florida, as the Fighting Irish prep for Alabama in Monday's BCS Championship game.

With the start of the college football season just a few weeks away, a handful Notre Dame players have been caught up in a academic fraud investigation. The Fighting Irish, who kick off against Rice in a little more than two weeks, could find themselves four players down after a campus-wide cheating investigation saw administrative officials quiz the players and other students.

A report from Yahoo Sports indicates that situation may be an “honor code violation,” which under NCAA rules could deem receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive back KeiVarae Russell, defensive lineman Ishaq Williams and linebacker Kendall Moore ineligible for the upcoming season and may result in their dismissal, similar to the academic issues that ruled Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson out for all of last year.

Golson started  11 games for the Fighting Irish two seasons ago, leading the team all the way to BCS final. In his absence last year, Notre Dame went 9-4. He completed 187 of 318 passes for 2,405 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions in 2012. Golson also rushed for 298 yards and six scores.

However, this newest blow may see another four leading players miss out for the entire season. Russell had 51 tackles and broke up eight passes last year as a starting cornerback. Daniels is Notre Dame's primary deep threat and leading returning receiver, with 49 catches for 745 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Linebacker Moore also had 17 tackles last season and is a projected backup in 2014. Williams, a defensive end, is a senior who had 17 tackles last year but was battling to start this year. 

While Notre Dame officials have not released any kind of official statement, the potential bans could damage the team’s prospects of returning to the BCS championship game after being trounced 42-14 against Alabama in the final two years ago. 

The NCAA are aware of the ongoing investigation at the school, according to the Yahoo report.

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