Notre Dame waiting for the ruling on the eligibility of two players

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Notre Dame has a solid core returning for the 2012-2013 season as is.

With a perimeter trio of Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton surrounding Jack Cooley, Notre Dame probably has enough on their roster to find themselves in and around the top 25 all season long and to make another trip to the NCAA tournament.

But depending on the outcome of a couple of eligibility decisions, the Irish have a shot at being the Louisville’s No. 1 challenger in the Big East next season.

Mike Brey’s program is still waiting for the NCAA’s decision on their application for a sixth-year of eligibility for Scott Martin and Tim Abromaitis. Martin has only played three seasons of college basketball in his five years in college. He spent his first year at Purdue before transferring to Notre Dame, where he sat out the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, the first as a redshirt and the second with a torn ACL.

“I feel great about Scott’s chances,” Brey told Andy Katz of ESPN.com. “The committee has been receptive to granting six years, and Scott Martin is someone who should get another year.” Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe, who was in a similar situation after tearing his ACL this past year, was recently granted a sixth-year of eligibility.

Abromaitis is in a similar boat. He redshirted his second season in South Bend and played only two games last year before tearing his ACL. His situation is a bit more complicated, however. When Abromaitis redshirted, he played in two exhibitions games, which technically means that he used up a season of eligibility. (You can only play in exhibition games and redshirt as a freshman, but the mistake was made by the coaching staff and not Abromaitis.) The NCAA showed him some leniency last season allowing him to play a fifth season after suspending him for four games.

“One of the strengths of [the Abromaitis] case is that that I don’t know if there is a better example of a true student-athlete in the last 20 years,” Brey said. Abromaitis graduated in three years, has already earned one graduate degree and took classes at the graduate level for fun during last season. “He’s achieved so much in the classroom. He played in two games. I say look what’s fair and let the guy finish the right way. The climate is very good.”

With both players eligible, Notre Dame will once again have the perfect four man for their offensive attack in Martin and one of the best shooters in the country back in the lineup in Arbomaitis.

The NCAA should do the right thing and give both players an extra season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.