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Notre Dame Football: Malik Zaire Has Graduated. Now What?

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The Florida Gators couldn’t help their graduate students pass classes. Now the SEC is considering relaxing its punishment so the university can reel in the former Irish QB.

@jenell_ross / Twitter

Malik Zaire, the one-time starting quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, seems in no rush to announce where he’ll pursue his graduate year.

The 22-year-old, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, is reportedly down to two teams: the Texas Longhorns and an undisclosed second team thought to be either the Florida Gators, Wisconsin Badgers or the Harvard Crimson.

Zaire told the Dayton Daily News Friday that he’s “just waiting for some things to finalize.”

I’ll echo the majority opinion and speculate the Kettering, Ohio product is waiting to see if the Southeastern Conference relaxes its graduate transfer rule during its spring meeting, which starts Thursday in Destin, Fla.

The Gators are forbidden from taking a graduate transfer for three years because two of their graduate football players from 2015 failed to meet academic requirements.

Those requirements, according to the SEC bylaws, are:

“To be eligible for any competition following the first full-time semester of enrollment at the certifying institution, the student-athlete must successfully complete at least nine (9) semester hours of graduate level academic coursework in his or her designated graduate program during that first full-time semester (which must all be completed with a passing grade accepted for credit in his or her designated graduate program)”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told GatorBait.net that the rule would be re-evaluated.

“We put originally a five-year prohibition on taking more grad transfers because we wanted that accountability to be meaningful,” he said. “We’ve moved that to three, and actually in our office we had a number of conversations observing, first of all, no one else has that kind of accountability in their own system. We don’t want to be overly punitive in how we create that kind of accountability.”

It sounds as if the SEC has changed its mind about forcing its member universities to educate its graduate athletes if doing so creates an competitive disadvantage on the football field.

I don’t believe the standard — ensuring athletes pass nine credit hours worth of courses over the course of a single semester — was particularly onerous. It’s a shame they may relax it.

MEN’S LACROSSE SUFFERS “EPIC FAIL”

It’s almost difficult to believe that the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team was once No. 1 in the polls this year.

The Irish started their season 5-1, only to fade down the stretch and end 9-6. Yes, Notre Dame played the toughest schedule in Division 1 this year. It wasn’t so much the losses, but that Notre Dame seemed completely unprepared for its NCAA quarterfinal game Saturday against the Denver Pioneers.

The Pioneers had owned the Irish coming into the game, but the matchups were always nail-biters. Their March clash ended with the Pioneers prevailing, 11-10, thanks to a goal scored with one second remaining.

On Saturday, it was a completely different story. The Pioneers dominated every facet of the game, winning faceoffs, finding the back of the net on shots and stifling any semblance of Irish offense. The final damage? A 16-4 loss, the worse defeat ever suffered by the senior class.

As John Heisler wrote this morning on UND.com, “Denver coach Bill Tierney called it a ‘perfect game’ on the part of his squad. [Irish coach Kevin] Corrigan referred to it as an ‘epic fail’ on the Notre Dame end.”

It was a similar disappointment for the women’s squad. They started 8-1, but finished 3-7. The ladies had dominated the second half of games in the first half of the season, but it became their Achilles’ heel later.

They held a slim halftime lead in the regular season finale against Boston College and eventually lost by three goals. They pulled within one goal against the Eagles in the second half of the first game in the ACC tournament, and then allowed Boston College to go on a 10-4 run.

In the first round of the NCAA tournament against the Cornell Big Red, the teams were tied at halftime. The Irish lost by five and finished the season 11-8.

The women’s team had eight of its members graduate Sunday, including two All-America selections — midfielder Casey Pearsall and attack Cortney Fortunato. It will be quite difficult to replace both, but especially Fortunato, who was recently dubbed “the LeBron James of women’s lacrosse.”