Posted by Jerry Hinnen
South Carolina's compliance department has issued its official response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations, and will be giving up at least six football scholarships over the next three seasons as part of its package of self-imposed sanctions.
The response did not dispute the NCAA investigation's assertion that Gamecock athletes (or "prospective athletes") has received some $55,000 from "representatives of the school’s athletic interests." The school also agreed that their compliance had failed to respond properly to a pair of separate "potentially improper situations," likely explaining why (as reported by CBSSports.com Carolina RapidReporter Josh Kendall) compliance director Jennifer Stiles was demoted Tuesday night.
The Notice of Allegations was delivered in September and alleged that approximately $47,000 in improper benefits had been offered to Gamecock athletes by the owner of the local Whitney Hotel, who allowed the athletes to stay at the hotel at a rate far below its usual daily rate. The infractions occurred during the 2009 season and could still result in vacations of that season's wins.
But for the time being, the Gamecocks will hope it doesn't come to that. In addition to the six scholarships forfeited over three years, the school is also self-imposing a three-year probation and limitation of official visits for the football program.
“We continue to work in full cooperation with the NCAA on this very serious matter,” Carolina president Dr. Harris Pastides said. “As an institution, we established self-imposed penalties and implemented corrective actions."
Given that the Gamecocks are still facing charges of "failure to monitor" and potential repeat violator status (per the Notice of Allegations), they're far from out of the woods yet; the NCAA's decision whether or not to impose further sanctions will come down at the Committee on Infractions hearing in February.
But until then, assuming the self-imposed sanctions are even in the final ballpark of the NCAA's punishment, it seems the Gamecocks will weather this scandal without too much serious damage.