The NCAA announced Tuesday they will deny Notre Dame’s appeal and will vacate all 21 wins the Fighting Irish program earned during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
That means from an NCAA perspective, Notre Dame’s perfect 12-0 regular season in 2012 will he wiped from the record books. In 2013, the Irish went 9-4.
Notre Dame violated NCAA rules when a former Fighting Irish student athletic trainer committed academic misconduct for two football players and provided six other football players with impermissible academic extra benefits. One other Notre Dame football player also committed academic misconduct on his own.
Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins was obviously very disappointed with the decision and released a long statement in a letter immediately following the appeal denial.
Let me be clear that we in no way excuse the very serious instances of academic dishonesty committed by our students. Academic fraud strikes at the very heart of our educational mission and the values of Notre Dame. That is why, when we first became aware that academic misconduct might have occurred, we spared no effort, consistent with the procedures of our Honor Code, to investigate each instance of possible academic misconduct. After an exhaustive investigation that covered four months, significant but appropriate penalties were administered by our Honesty Committee to all students found responsible for academic dishonesty, including the three members of our football team whose conduct underlies the vacation of wins penalty, as well as students involved who were not members of any athletic team.
The NCAA is not, of course, an academic association with general responsibility for academic integrity at America’s colleges and universities. It is, rather, an athletic association that regulates academic misconduct in certain narrowly drawn cases involving students who are athletes. Two such cases are: 1) when a representative of the university is complicit in the cheating and 2) when a student competes on behalf of the university while ineligible.
Readers can check out the full letter from Jenkins here.
When the NCAA initially released this ruling in Nov. 2016, Notre Dame acknowledged all the cheating involving the five football players, all of whom were suspended at the start of the 2014 season, and the student athletic trainer. The Fighting Irish were only appealing the removal of victories.
Still, the biggest problem with vacating wins in college sports is the losses aren’t removed from the record book, only the wins. So while Notre Dame’s win total will officially drop from 906 to 885, the Fighting Irish have still “handed a loss” to an opponent 906 times in history.
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