Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly said Thursday that the five players held out of practices and the first five games of the season because of an academic dishonesty investigation will not be available again Saturday when the sixth-ranked Irish host North Carolina.
''Here's what I know: None of our five guys practiced, so they will obviously not be able to play this weekend,'' Kelly said. ''I'm hearing some things, but I'm going to let them share any information they have with you. As it stands right now, I do not have any of those players back in practice.''
Cornerback KeiVarae Russell, receiver DaVaris Daniels, defensive end Ishaq Williams, linebacker Kendall Moore and defensive back Eilar Hardy have been held out since August.
The university announced Aug. 15 it was investigating whether Russell, Daniels, Williams and Moore submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others. Hardy was added to the investigation Aug. 28.
Kelly said last week he hoped to get Daniels back soon, but as of Thursday, he wasn't sure if any of them would return this season.
''I couldn't comment on all five,'' Kelly said. ''Some of the things I'm getting are not firsthand information, so it's hard for me to really answer the question with a hundred percent certainty.''
The university issued a statement Sunday from spokesman Paul Browne, saying that hearings held by what he called ''comprehensive honesty committees'' had been completed on Oct. 3 and the players would be informed about the decisions as soon as deliberations on each case were done. Browne said the university was aware the process had been time-consuming and said the university was ''working to resolve these situations as quickly as possible.''
Kelly confirmed that there is a process to appeal the results of those honesty committees, but would not say if any of the players were involved in that process at this time.
''Let's assume that somebody, or one of the five has been dismissed from school, they may want to talk to their families and figure out what their game plan is,'' Kelly said. ''I think we all know that we're at that point that decisions are being made, or have been made, and I don't have all the answers. All I know is, as the football coach, they're not practicing.''
Kelly also could not confirm if any of the five had reached a point of finality in the process.
''To be clear, I don't have any concrete finality on any of the five,'' Kelly said. ''They may want to exhaust all that is in front of them, relative to an appeal. It's really up to the player, the student athlete, to really discuss it, not me.
''I don't believe it's my role to come before you and tell you where they are in the process, because they do have their own privacy rights.''
Kelly said he has continued to communicate with the players, who are still attending classes and welcome inside the football facilities, but he also acknowledged that if any positive news was going to come out at this time, it already would have.
''I know, really, this. They're not practicing,'' Kelly said. ''They're not out on the field, and that would tell me one thing.''
Feature photo courtesy of Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports