After reports surfaced earlier this week that Kevin Austin was suspended for the entire 2019 season, you knew Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly would be asked about the status of the sophomore receiver at this weekly pre-game presser today. He was. Predictably, Kelly was vague about Austin’s status.
“Kevin Austin is on our team,” Kelly said earlier today. “I think you guys all know that I don’t talk about playing time with our guys. If I have anything to talk about with a player relative to their status, I’m going to talk about it if I can.”
He went on to add, “His situation is such that he is still on this football team and he is still practicing with us. Other than that, I’ve made my statements regarding him.”
So, really, what did Kelly tell us here? Not much. He did confirm that Austin is still enrolled at Notre Dame, still on the team, and that he expects him to be on the team moving forward. What he did not tell us is whether or not Austin will be available to suit up this year.
Knowing that Austin is still on the team and practicing lets us know that whatever issue Austin has is likely not of the academic variety of Everett Golson or the frozen five from a few years ago. When Golson got caught cheating in 2013, he was neither on the team or enrolled at Notre Dame before being reinstated.
This probably isn’t an Alize Mack situation either. In 2016, a then sophomore Mack missed the entire year but was still practicing with the team albeit on the scout team. The difference here is that Brian Kelly released a statement when Mack was ineligible.
Before anyone gets too upset with Kelly for his lack of clarification, remember, if this is a University imposed suspension, Kelly legally cannot comment on it due to privacy laws.
All along this has felt like a Kevin Stepherson / Dexter Williams type deal. What is still somewhat uncertain, however, is the length of Austin’s absence.
There were some grumblings on Twitter on Tuesday that there was some conflicting information on Austin’s status for 2019, but thus far there haven’t been any reports that he definitely will be available at some point or any further confirmations that he will not be available this season.
— Bryan Driskell (@CoachD178) August 27, 2019
For the sake of this weekend though, we know definitely that Austin is not available. Chris Finke slides over from the slot and starts in place of injured Michael Young. Sophomore WR Lawrence Keys makes his starting debut in the slot in place of Finke. Sophomore Braden Lenzy is backing up Finke and classmate Joe Wilkins backs up Keys.