Today Notre Dame confirmed that it was investigating potential academic misconduct involving four football players:
Evidence that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others was initially detected at the end of the summer session, and referred to the compliance office in athletics on July 29. The Office of General Counsel initiated an immediate investigation.
The conduct does not fall under the definition of “arranging fradulent credit or false transcripts” which the NCAA defines like this:
This phrase refers to conduct such as altering or “doctoring” transcripts or arranging to receive credit for a course in which the prospective student-athlete or student-athlete did not enroll or he or she did not complete.
Therefore the process for Notre Dame deciding whether a violation has occurred should go like this:
- Determine whether academic misconduct has occurred, i.e. whether the school’s Academic Code of Honor was violated.
- If yes, determine that but for the academic misconduct, the athlete(s) would not have been academically eligible.
- If yes, determine whether the athlete(s) competed while erroneously declared eligible.
Notre Dame’s statement suggests that the focus of the investigation at this point is the second step of that process:
That investigation is ongoing. If it determines that the student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily vacate any victories in which they participated.
Update: During the press conference Notre Dame made it clear it has not reached a conclusion on the first question, whether academic misconduct has occurred.
In addition to the academic questions, there is also the possible issue of impermissible benefits, i.e. an arrangement not available to other students, according to both the NCAA Ed Column above and UNC’s recent major infractions case.