With the season-opener five days away, Brian Kelly still doesn’t know the status of four key underclassmen.
That’s because linebacker Te’von Coney, receiver Kevin Stepherson, running back Dexter Williams and cornerback Ashton White remain in limbo regarding the Texas game on Sunday night.
So while Kelly has been clear in his commentary that internal discipline is sufficient punishment for the players following their arrests earlier this month, Notre Dame’s Office of Community Standards, formerly known as the Office of Residence Life, has not come to a conclusion.
“They’re all on the depth chart, they’re all on at this point, they’re available to play,” Kelly said. “As you know, some of these situations are out of my hands.”
“That’s why they’re on the depth chart, I’ll control what I can control from a football standpoint.”
Kelly said he expects the process within the University and the Office of Community Standards should commence today. Kelly added that he has good communication with that department of the University, although he does not know of any deadline for a decision on the four players.
Asked if he considered suspending Williams, Coney, Stepherson and White, Kelly said he did not because it was a first offense. He added that he would not consider suspending a player for a first offense on marijuana. Kelly also revealed that Notre Dame's drug testing policy within the athletic department allows for a first strike without missed time, calling that first positive an "educational" in the process.
The four underclassmen were arrested on Aug. 19 in Fulton County alongside Max Redfield, who’s since been dismissed from the team. All five faced preliminary misdemeanor marijuana possession charges, which were made formal on Monday. Redfield, Williams and Stepherson faced preliminary charges of possession of a handgun without a license, but only Redfield was formally charged with that count.
Redfield was dismissed less than 48 hours after the arrests.
On Tuesday morning, Stepherson, Redfield and Coney were in court in Fulton County to make preliminary pleas of not guilty. Williams and White filed motions via their attorneys.
The four underclassmen have continued to practice with the team since the arrest and would play reserve roles this weekend in Austin.
Williams, in addition to being Notre Dame’s third back, had worked with the kickoff return team. Stepherson figured to be in the receiver rotation on opening night. Coney and White would have factored into special teams.