The University of Notre Dame football program has taken a significant hit this past week, as four players – three slated as starters – are under investigation for academic misconduct. None of the players have been officially suspended but they have been held out of practice and team activities while the investigation goes on.
While the timing of the players’ alleged academic misbehavior really couldn’t be worse, as the college football season is less than two weeks away, it comes on the heels of the summer class session but could have roots as far back as the 2012 season when the team went to the BCS National Championship game.
Quality systems based on standards such as ISO 9001 are intended to be rigorous in validating that the proper processes in place are being performed as expected. In short, a solid quality system verifies that “we do what we say we do”.
A quality system performing properly to a standard is built to produce a quality output and prevent a poor quality output from being made or distributed.
It’s easy for the media and the talking heads at ESPN (and the fans of the SEC) to point fingers and say Notre Dame is doing bad things and they are not as angelic as their reputation suggests they are. That is factually correct, to a point.
However, this situation also demonstrates that whatever system Notre Dame is using to prevent academic misconduct – a defined quality system or series of inspections or who knows what – it is working to identify any academic improprieties. If there was no skeleton of a quality system present, then the alleged misconduct would be wrongly permitted by the system and not identified and quarantined.
A perfectly-operating quality system will keep the academic misdeeds from occurring in the first place, but at least Notre Dame’s processes did not let academic misdeeds from going unnoticed…this time.
Notre Dame has recently taken its lumps with regard to star athletes being suspended for academic issues – 2012’s starting quarterback Everett Golson was suspended from school due to academic misconduct as was basketball star Jerian Grant. This past spring top wide receiver DaVaris Daniels was suspended from school for poor grades.
The academic system for athletes at Notre Dame permits specialized help in the form of tutors, academic advisors, and training sessions among other things. The school takes their academic rigor very seriously and will provide necessary academic assistance where necessary, but participants who violate the available resources through inappropriate means suffer significant consequences. This has been proven with Golson, Grant, and Daniels.
Mike Coffey at NDNation.com summed up the situation and how the school administration is handling it very objectively:
If anything, the way the last couple weeks have progressed screams “institutional control” rather than the lack of it. The academic side of the house noticed something was wrong, started to investigate, brought in the athletic side when appropriate, and things proceed from there. That’s exactly how it should be: No undue pressure from one side on the other, both sides cooperating fully.
A quality system properly implemented helps an organization keep doing things properly and effectively, and helps identify anomalies.