SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Holed up in the usual preseason camp bunker, little of anything unrelated to Notre Dame penetrates Brian Kelly's orbit. But a scandal as breathtaking in scope as the one unfolding at Miami wouldn't be ignored.

One of Notre Dame's most storied rivals is under siege thanks to the allegations of countless extra benefits provided by former booster Nevin Shapiro. And, if true, Kelly sees that as a systemic failure meriting serious sanctions.

"We're going to have to be more vigilant -- everybody," Kelly said after Irish practice Friday. "Everybody says, 'Well, it's just the NCAA.' I think that's a cop-out. It's the NCAA, it's the institution, it's the coach, it's compliance, it's everybody. And the penalties have to be severe for those who don't choose to play by the rules."

The NCAA confirmed it is investigating Miami, which faced the Irish for the first time in two decades in December's Sun Bowl and is scheduled to play Notre Dame at Soldier Field in 2012.

Kelly suggested much of this boils down to the character of the players brought into a program.

"It's obviously not good for college football," Kelly said. "There is no good spin. You can't put a good spin on it. What I can tell you is, there are a lot of good football coaches out there that believe recruiting the right kids – kids that understand and recognize the value of getting an education first – can alleviate some of those things.

"That's not to say the guys at Miami didn't want to go to school, but they had other things in mind, too. As a coach, as a program, you recruit guys that understand they're coming to a university to get a degree and the value of that degree and what it costs and playing football."

bchamilton@tribune.com

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