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Chicago Sun-Times

The tail end of Bill Bellecomo's varsity football practice at Vernon Hills High School turned to chaos briefly last Friday.

Just shy of 5 p.m., several Chicago news stations showed up at the field unannounced to ask questions about the school's former star wide receiver, DaVaris Daniels, who was one of four players named in an ongoing academic fraud investigation at the University of Notre Dame, hundreds of miles away in Indiana.

A half hour after Bellecomo's squad left the practice field, a news helicopter still hovered over the Cougars' freshman practice nearby. At times, it was extremely difficult to hear cadence calls from the players on the field, as a result.

RELATED: Fraud Scandal Further Tarnishes Notre Dame's Rep

"We actually left our practice field four or five minutes early because we were tipped off the news media was on their way," said Bellecomo, who was an assistant coach at Vernon Hills under Tony Monken during the four years that Daniels played varsity football for the Cougars.

"Right as the reporters came up, we were quickly exiting the other side of the field. I don't know what they expected to find here, other than wanting a live shot from the school DaVaris used to go to perhaps. DaVaris was an amazing person who was truly - and I mean this - truly liked by almost everyone when he went to school here. He affected people that way.

"Anyhow, during the last hour of our practice, Mr. (Brian) McDonald (the school's athletic director) told me they (news trucks) were on their way. At least one of them showed up at our former head coach, Tony Monken's house. It was pretty wild for a few minutes. Just out of nowhere, suddenly there's a bunch of news trucks here and a helicopter."

Bellecomo kept the media's arrival a secret from his team.

"I didn't want the kids to have to potentially go through that, with reporters asking them questions about it, so we made a decision to get them off the field as quick as we could," Bellecomo said. "It didn't disrupt too much because practice was almost done, but we did have to make a choice to leave the field early."

Daniels, who was the Irish's projected top returning receiver, was previously suspended by Notre Dame over poor grades, but was reinstated to the team in May. A report on Saturday said Daniels has denied any wrongdoing stemming from the school's latest investigation.

RELATED: Notre Dame Scandal Blame Starts at the Top

That investigation is said to have found alleged evidence that several players turned in papers which appeared to be written by others.

Currently, the four football players are suspended and cannot practice or play any games. Vernon Hills opens its season on Aug. 29 against DeKalb. One day later, Notre Dame will start its season against Rice.

RELATED: Notre Dame Unveils New Under Armour Uniforms


August 20, 2014




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