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Brian Kelly: Players' hearings near

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly shed some light Tuesday on the school's internal academic investigation, saying he was told Friday that a committee had been formed to determine the innocence or guilt of the five suspended Fighting Irish players, and that if all goes well, their hearings could come by the end of next week.

The school announced Aug. 15 that it was withholding DaVaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams, Kendall Moore and KeiVarae Russell from practices and games as it investigated academic misconduct. The school announced on Aug. 28 that Eilar Hardy would be withheld as well.

The school had said that the office of general counsel initiated an immediate investigation when the compliance office was referred to evidence July 29. The players are expected to miss their fourth straight games to start the season, Saturday against Syracuse, but Kelly said Tuesday that the time passed has not given him an indication of their potential guilt or innocence.

When asked if he had an opinion of the process, Kelly offered a brief smile before saying: "I don't have an opinion and I really wouldn't want to share it publicly."

Kelly did say he talks with athletic director Jack Swarbrick about ways to improve a process like this, which has cast a bit of a pall over the No. 8 Irish's 3-0 start.

"It's a very complicated situation, obviously," Kelly said. "There are a lot of pieces here. There are NCAA implications, certainly. We're probably going down a path that [we've] never gone before, so there are things there.

"Certainly these are dialogues that Jack and I are having -- not after the season; we're having them as they occur -- because there are clearly ways that we believe internally that we need to get better, and so we don't wait until January to have those conversations. We're having them right now."

Kelly said that he has no knowledge of the school potentially vacating wins from previous seasons, and that he thinks he would be informed if that were the case. He said it is his understanding that a school honesty committee has not been set up in this fashion before.

The suspended players attend classes and have been welcomed back in the football complex, eating with teammates and working out with strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo, though Kelly has chosen to hold them out of team meetings.

Kelly also said that the team will be without wide receiver Amir Carlisle (MCL sprain) on Saturday but that safety Austin Collinsworth (MCL sprain) and Torii Hunter Jr. (groin tear) are expected to make their season debuts.