University president the Rev. John Jenkins said the four players have not been suspended from the team or the school but they will be kept out of football activities until the investigation is complete.
"We have gotten nothing but cooperation from (athletic director) Jack (Swarbrick) and (head coach) Brian Kelly,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said evidence that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others was initially detected at the end of the summer session and referred to the compliance office in athletics on July 29.
Jenkins said there is no evidence that head coach Brian Kelly or the coaching staff knew about the situation.
"Like all of us, he was devastated." Swarbrick said of Kelly’s reaction.
Jenkins would not speculate how far back the academic fraud could have taken place and declined to outline a timeline for the investigation.
"We’ll go as quickly as we can, but our emphasis will be on thoroughness,” he said.
Jenkins also could not speak on if former players were involved with the academic fraud, saying those details would emerge during investigations.
If the investigations reveal evidence of academic dishonesty, Jenkins said the four players will answer to an anonymous Honor Code committee, which will determine the sanctions.
Jenkins said the sanctions involved range from "F" on a paper to outright dismissal from the University.
Though Jenkins emphasized that the matter was academically related, and not athletic, Notre Dame is prepared to voluntarily vacate any victories "if it determines that the student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition." This could include the 2012 season, which saw Notre Dame advance to the national championship game.
Russell, Williams and Daniels are starters, while Moore enters his fifth year in a reserve role.
The news of this investigation emerges more than a year after starting quarterback Everett Golson was suspended after academic dishonesty — what he called “poor academic judgement.”
"The University of Notre Dame is investigating suspected academic dishonesty on the part of several students, including four members of the football team. Because of the potential for NCAA violations, the University notified the NCAA today, and the four football players will be held out of practice and competition until the conclusion of an ongoing investigation and the University honor code process. Any possible academic dishonesty by other students will be addressed appropriately.
“Integrity is at the heart of our mission and academic misconduct will not be tolerated at Notre Dame,” said Jenkins. “If the suspected improprieties are proven, we will use the experience to reinforce among our students the importance of honesty in all that they do. We are also examining ways of better conveying to students that they can avail themselves of legitimate academic assistance without resorting to cheating.”
The Office of General Counsel initiated an immediate investigation.
That investigation is ongoing. If it determines that the student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily vacate any victories in which they participated.
“The University is committed to thorough resolution of this matter, consistent with its commitment to academic integrity and adherence to NCAA rules," Jenkins said.
“Students who are subject to the investigation will remain enrolled until its conclusion.”