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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Notre Dame Broke Rules?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame is looking into whether student-athletes, including football and basketball players, violated NCAA rules with comments promoting a local sports talk show on the CBS affiliate here.

John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletic director, said Saturday he became aware of possible violations when contacted Friday afternoon by a reporter for The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. Heisler said the school has not seen the spots, promoting "Sports Dogz" on WSBT-TV, so it does not know if it violates NCAA rules.

"We're just trying to figure out what this is," he said. "I don't know if we know for sure it's an NCAA violation."

Jennifer Kearns, associate director of public and media relations with the NCAA, said she could not comment on specific cases, or whether the Indianapolis-based organization was investigating the students.

Kearns said that in past situations when a student-athlete did not know they were breaking an NCAA rule it had been deemed as a secondary violation.

"The NCAA is trying to get student athletes the benefit of the doubt," Kearns said. "If they say, 'I didn't know this was happening,' we try to work with them and do what's best for them."

Heisler said school officials would ask WSBT-TV to provide copies of the promotions.

Last year USC quarterback Matt Leinart had his eligibility temporarily revoked after appearing in a promotional segment on ESPN. Leinart was reinstated after Southern California petitioned the NCAA. The NCAA said Leinart's actions were "unintentional and inadvertent."

Coach Charlie Weis said Saturday that the television spots by the Notre Dame players might be different because the comments weren't used as promotions outside of the program.

"This is something run during the show, so it's a totally different," he said.

Weis said he is depending on Notre Dame's compliance officer to determine whether any rules were violated.

"I'll just let them go ahead and deal with it," he said. "But I feel it will be taken care of very quickly."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press


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