SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame added reserve safety Eilar Hardy to the list of four Irish players being withheld from practice and games as the university completed its investigation into whether they may have turned in homework and papers completed by others.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said during a news conference Thursday that Hardy was not at practice. He played in 10 games last season, starting against Pittsburgh and BYU, and finished with 26 tackles. He did not play as a freshman or sophomore.
Kelly said he was pleased that the university’s investigation into possible cheating had been closed.
"For our football team, we feel like this brings a big part of closure for us. So now we can really just focus the next 48 hours on preparation for Rice," he said. "You never want to hear about a young man pulled from practice and competition. But I think we’ve talked about this. There’s accountability and responsibility. That will ensue here over the next week or so."
The university announced on Aug. 15 that it would withhold starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, leading returning receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams and backup linebacker Kendall Moore during the investigation.
The Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, said at a news conference that suspicion about the players was initially detected at the end of the summer session and the case was referred to the compliance office on July 29.
Jenkins said if it is found they violated the school’s honor code the penalties could range from an F on an assignment, to an F in the course to dismissal from school.
The next step is for the players to have hearings before the university’s code of honor committee, made up of students, faculty and a member of the provost’s office. Kelly said he hopes the cases are dealt with quickly.
He said he doesn’t know whether any former players might be involved in the investigation.
"I don’t have any information, any detailed information, about the investigation," he said.
Jenkins said at the earlier news conference the school would vacate victories if it is determined players have been ineligible during past competition.
Kelly had previously said the players were allowed to work out in the weight room and eat with the team, but were not allowed to attend game-planning meetings. He said he might reconsider that next week depending on how quickly the honor committee meetings take place, saying he would talk to athletic director Jack Swarbrick about it.
"If this thing is going to move quickly, those are questions that I’ll have," he said. "We’ll have that conversation."
Notre Dame plays Rice on Saturday and Michigan on Sept. 6.