QB Golson no longer at Notre Dame

Quarterback Everett Golson is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said Saturday night that Golson, who had three years of eligibility left after not playing as a freshman, was no longer enrolled at Notre Dame as of Friday. Brown says he couldn’t comment on why because of federal privacy laws, but sources speaking to the Chicago Tribune called it an academic violation and did not expect Golson to be available for the coming season.

The school would not comment on when Golson might be able to re-apply. An athletics department spokesman told USA TODAY Sports that Golson finished the spring semester but would not reveal any more details.

Golson helped lead the Fighting Irish to its first undefeated regular season in more than two decades and the BCS title game last season as a first-time starter.

The departure leaves a major question mark at a position where coach Brian Kelly was expecting to see major improvement in an offense that struggled for much of last season, with the Irish finishing 54th in the nation in total offense, including 71st in passing offense. The most likely replacement is Tommy Rees, the 2011 starter who came in to play key roles in victories over Purdue, Michigan, Stanford and Brigham Young when Golson either struggled or was injured. Rees has 4,413 career passing yards and 34 TD passes along with 18 career starts.

But Rees lacks the mobility that Kelly likes and struggled with turnovers as a starter two seasons ago. The other possibilities are senior Andrew Hendrix, who has seen limited action but is more mobile than Rees and has two seasons of eligibility left, and freshman Malik Zaire. Five-star recruit Gunner Kiel didn’t take part in spring practices with the Irish and has enrolled at Cincinnati.

Golson was 187 of 318 passing for 2,405 yards and a 58.8 completion rate, with 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions as the Irish went 12-1 last season, losing 42-14 loss to Alabama in the championship game. Golson joined Joe Theismann (1970) and Jarious Jackson (1999) as the only Irish quarterbacks to pass for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 300 in a season.

He had a pass efficiency rating of 131.01, placing him 62nd among quarterbacks nationwide. But after a year of quarterback controversy a year earlier, Golson was locked in as the starter for the upcoming season until the news broke Saturday.

It’s the latest in a string of bad news for the Irish this year, starting with the blowout loss to Alabama, leaving many to question whether the Irish were as close to challenging for a national title as they appeared to be when they finished the regular season 12-0 and were ranked No. 1 for the first time in nearly two decades. Then soon after the embarrassing loss, news broke about linebacker Manti Te’o, the Heisman Trophy runner-up, was duped into an Internet romance with a girlfriend he never met who turned out to be a man pretending to be the woman.