Kelly says ND suspensions came directly from him
Posted: 08/28/2012 at 2:00 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
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In this 2009 file photograph Notre Dame's Theo Riddick runs with the ball during Notre Dame's 23-21 loss on Saturday, Nov. 7, at Notre Dame Stadium. (Truth Photo By Jay Seawell)
On Sunday, the Notre Dame head football coach announced the suspensions of starting running back Cierre Wood and backup defensive end Justin Utupo due to violating team policies. Wood and Utupo will miss the first two games of the season, against Navy and Purdue.
Kelly addressed the media Tuesday afternoon and said the university's Residence Life had no bearing in the punishments.
“This is strictly an independent decision I made, relative to the decisions those young men made,” Kelly said. “They violated the rules that our players know, rules they know every single day about being in this program.”
Wood and Utupo will join fellow suspended teammates Tommy Rees and Carlo Calabrese in South Bend as the rest of the team travels to Dublin, Ireland, for the season opener against Navy.
“Anytime I suspend somebody from the football team, it's perceived as discipline, and I understand that,” Kelly said. “These are educational opportunities for me. So when I suspend somebody I look at it as how are we gonna get this young man to live up to the standards that I have for our program, and in this instance relative to his suspension, we want it to be educational. And we want them to come back better citizens and better young men.”
Kelly said the ultimate goal of suspensions like these “is that they turn out like the Michael Floyd situation, where they make life decisions to change.”
Running backs Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III will fill in for Wood throughout the suspension.
“(Riddick is) a guy that was bred for this position, if you call it a hybrid or whatever you want to call it,” Kelly said. “Running the ball is his first love, it's something he's accustomed to. He fits terrifically, right now. George is progress every day. He's moving into different venues as a receiver and he's continued to evolve.”
Kelly said running back Amir Carlisle will not be cleared to play against Navy, but Kelly is “very optimistic” that Carlisle is nearing the point to be ready to play.