Maybe it’s part of an alphabetical progression the NCAA uses when it comes to dealing with infraction cases. Maybe what happened to Notre Dame on Tuesday is a sign that the NCAA, which runs big time college athletics with a sometimes uneven hand, has reached the N schools.
Whatever the reason, the Infractions Committee–which deals with member violations–seemed to move at warp speed (only 2 years) when it dealt a blow to Notre Dame’s reputation by wrapping up an academic misconduct case against the Irish.
Notre Dame’s penalties: The Irish were stripped of 21 victories the football team posted in the 2012-2013 seasons. Included in that time span was Notre Dame’s 12-0 run that sent the Irish to the BCS title game, where they were swept away by The Crimson Tide of Alabama. Wonder if the BCS folks, who are now running the CFB Playoff system, will vacate Notre Dame’s runner up spot in the Orange Bowl that year.
The charges against Notre Dame were that a former student trainer completed academic courses for two football players and provided academic help for six other football players in 18 courses over a three year period.
Notre Dame said it conducted its own internal investigation and handed out its own internal penalties. The school, which prides itself on what it feels is a pristine academic reputation, said it will appeal the NCAA ruling, feeling that the forfeiture of games was too harsh a penalty for the violation that was committed.
Football coach Brian Kelly, who is coming to the end of a disappointing season in which the Irish could tumble to 4-8, the worst season at ND since Charlie Weis posted a 3-9 record in 2007, said the matter was a “student on student” incident, which was a clear attempt by Kelly to accept the majority of the responsibility for an incident which happened under his watch.
It has not been a fun year in South Bend. In addition to the losses, Notre Dame has had a series of internal issues with coaches and players this season, which have caused Kelly to spend as much time dealing with off the field matters as he has in preparing for games.
If the Irish lose their regular season finale at USC on Saturday, the murmurs about Kelly’s future–despite public re-assurances from ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick that Kelly will return next season–will grow louder.
The NCAA’s relatively quick resolution to the ND case, should switch the focus to North Carolina, which has been under investigation by the NCAA for a school-wide (but centered in the athletic department) academic fraud issue since 2010.
Let’s hope that the NCAA can now deal with another college athletic blue blood in the Tar Heels. With a decision on that case still pending and the announcement about Notre Dame made this week, the NCAA Infractions Committee is TMG’s Newsmaker of the Week.