Notre Dame's athletic administration is taking a close look at how to best manage student-athletes who are at risk for academic difficulties at the school, and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly sees the academic demands on his football players as a factor that puts his entire team at such a risk.
"I think we recognized that all of my football players are at-risk -- all of them -- really. Honestly, I don't know that any of our players would get into the school by themselves right now with the academic standards the way they are. Maybe one or two of our players that are on scholarship," Kelly said on Tuesday, per Notre Dame Insider. "So making sure that with the rigors that we put them in -- playing on the road, playing night games, getting home at 4 o'clock in the morning, all of the demands that we place on them relative to the academics and going into an incredibly competitive academic classroom every day -- we recognize this is a different group. And we have to provide all the resources necessary for them to succeed and don't force them into finding shortcuts."
Former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson served an academic suspension for the entire 2013 season and last year, five other players were withheld for academic issues as well.
"I think we've clearly identified that we need to do better, and we're not afraid to look at any shortcomings that we do have and fix them, and provide the resources necessary for our guys," Kelly said. "Our university has looked at that, and we're prepared to make sure that happens for our guys."
While Notre Dame has had its share of academic issues with players over the last couple of years, the time players invest in football at the major college level is extensive everywhere. NCAA rules allow for 20 hours of practice per week during the season, but that doesn't include the time players spend on their own watching film, studying playbooks or preparing in other ways. Out of season, the limit is eight hours per week.
In theory, the student-athlete experience in college is supposed to be relatively similar to that of a regular student, but in practice, it isn't.