Notre Dame men's basketball: Grant leaves school following academic issues

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

Failing to figure out how to help Notre Dame keep from letting Saturday’s game against No. 3 Ohio State slip away was not the toughest part of the final weekend before Christmas for senior guard Jerian Grant.

After the 64-61 loss, Grant and his Irish teammates were no longer teammates in the traditional sense.

The 6-foot-5 Grant, who is a senior academically but a junior athletically after sitting out his freshman season to preserve a year of eligibility, announced early Sunday evening that he is no longer enrolled at Notre Dame.

A first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference preseason selection, Grant made the revelation on the school’s website, saying he was done “due to an academic matter that I did not handle properly.”

Earlier this semester, on Sept. 22, Grant posted a tweet on his Twitter feed that read, “School is hard. This ND degree better be worth it. Lol”

“I take full responsibility for my lack of good judgment and the poor decision that I made,” Grant said in Sunday’s six-paragraph statement.

“I have no one to blame but myself for the situation. I know and understand the expectations that go with being a student at Notre Dame and I did not live up to those standards.”

Grant could not be reached Sunday for comment. A phone message for his father, Harvey, was not returned. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, who left to recruit following Saturday’s game, will address the situation Monday during a teleconference.

Current members of the basketball team are on Christmas break and will not be available for interviews until later this week.

A source close to the situation said that Grant, who scored 18 points in 38 minutes Saturday, knew the Ohio State game would be his last.

The process of deciding Grant’s academic future had been in motion much of the previous week.

A final decision was reached Thursday. Final exams ended Friday.

Residence halls closed Saturday. According to the university website, all fall grades are due by 3:45 p.m. Monday. If the Ohio State game was played Sunday, Grant likely would not have played.

Saturday saw Grant work alongside classmate and roommate Eric Atkins for the last time. Following an emotional post-game moment in the Irish locker room, Grant boarded the charter flight back to South Bend, while Atkins went home to Baltimore.

Grant spent Sunday packing his belongings and putting some stuff into

storage before driving home to Bowie, Md. He fully intends to return to Notre Dame in the summer to finish his undergraduate degree in sociology and play his final season in 2014-15.

There was a good chance that Grant, had he remained at Notre Dame, would have bypassed his fifth year of college for the chance at the NBA. He would already have his degree. But leaving Notre Dame shy of graduation and turning attention to the NBA is not an option.

“I intend to do whatever it takes to earn my degree and finish out my college basketball career here,” Grant said.

There are no plans for Grant to attend classes while away from Notre Dame. A source said he may spend time in Orlando, Fla., with his best friend, Victor Oladipo, or work out with his uncle, Horace, in California. He may go back and help at DeMatha (Md.) Catholic High School.

Grant’s departure leaves a massive void in the Irish lineup. In addition to playing 35.6 minutes a game, Grant was leading the Irish in assists (74) and steals (24). He scored double figures in all but one game this season. That included a career-high 26 in the season opener against Miami (Ohio).

On Dec. 1, Grant became the 55th player in school history to score his 1,000th career point. On Thursday, Grant and Atkins, who reached 1,000 points Nov. 17, were honored by Brey during practice for their accomplishments. Each was given a souvenir basketball to commemorate the occasion.

Much of the offense was initiated and advanced through Grant’s ability to create. How Notre Dame fills his void remains to be determined. The Irish could go with sophomore power forward Austin Burgett, who has started once this season, or senior power forward Tom Knight, who started the season’s first four games.

Freshman guards V.J. Beachem and Steve Vasturia will see their roles increase as the Irish move into their first season in the ACC with nine scholarship players currently available.

A 10th — sophomore Eric Katenda — is not in game shape while recovering from microfracture knee surgery he underwent in the fall.

Notre Dame (8-4) basically starts from scratch when practice resumes Thursday.

However it unfolds, there’s no chance sophomore swingman Cameron Biedscheid will return to play in the spring semester. Biedscheid announced his intentions the night of the home opener to sit out the season to preserve a year of eligibility. Brey agreed then with the decision, but cautioned that if Biedscheid was needed, he might have to return to the active roster for the spring semester.

That will not happen.

Grant is the first active Irish men’s basketball player to leave mid-year because of something unrelated to athletics since former guard Kyle McAlarney was expelled for the spring semester of the 2006-07 school year following his arrest for marijuana possession.

McAlarney spent that spring semester at a junior college near his home in Staten Island, N.Y., and later reapplied to and reenrolled at Notre Dame, where he finished his undergraduate degree.

TNoie@SBTinfo.com

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Twitter: TNoie@NDInsider

Notre Dame's Jerian Grant fakes on a drive to the basket against Bryant on Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, inside the Purcell Pavilion at Notre Dame. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN