“We have a lot of decisions to make right now,” Gary Garcia told CBSSports.com Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t know what his options are yet. We’re trying to absorb everything that’s happened. It’s happened so quickly.”
Gary Garcia was with his son in Columbia, S.C., helping Stephen pack to return to their hometown of Tampa, Fla. Garcia graduated in May.
“Obviously, he’s responsible for his own actions, which we’ve told him from the beginning,” Gary Garcia told The Tampa Tribune. “The stuff he did in the beginning, he should’ve known better than that. He should’ve made better decisions. We understand that.
“I don’t hold the university responsible for it. Stephen did it. He should be responsible. You only get so many chances.”
Stephen Garcia had been suspended – and reinstated five times. He told CBSSports.com after the Gamecocks’ season opening victory against East Carolina how appreciative he was of getting one final chance.
"Once I was told the conditions (to meet) in order for me to return, I knew I would be able to come back and just get it done,” Garcia said on Sept. 3. “Get back on the team at whatever cost. I don't know where I'd be right now if Coach (Steve) Spurrier, (athletic director) Mr. (Eric) Hyman and President Dr. (Harris) Pastides didn't give me the conditions and allow me one more final chance."
Spurrier said he was “saddened this has occurred.”
“We all feel like we’ve given Stephen numerous opportunities to be a student-athlete here at South Carolina,” Spurrier said in a statement. “Obviously, he has chosen not to follow the guidelines of his reinstatement contract. We wish him the best.”
Gary Garcia said his son had agreed to a zero tolerance to return to the team in the summer.
“I don’t know many college kids who can handle zero tolerance, but those were the choices we had,” Gary Garcia said. “You could second-guess yourself. Should he have even come back here? Go somewhere else?
"He made a commitment to South Carolina and his teammates. He wanted to win a championship. He had a chance this year. God works in mysterious ways. I don’t know what’s ahead for him, but it will be something.”
Gary Garcia said it was almost a sense of relief for his son and the chance for a fresh start. He said his son does not have an alcohol problem.
“I don’t think he has to get anything squared away,” Gary Garcia told the Tribune. “He has been doing well. I don’t think he’s a loose cannon. He’s a wannabe college student who has a lot of eyes on him.
“To start off like he started (with numerous suspensions) was not on level ground. He was below the ground. At home, he’ll be a lot more conscientious. The players and coaches here (at South Carolina), they’ve called and texted him. They just think he’s a college kid. Leave him alone. Everything he does gets reported. He’s an SEC quarterback. He’s not Tim Tebow. But there’s only one Tim Tebow, I know.”
Gary Garcia said he plans to eventually contact former Tampa Bay Bucs coach Jon Gruden and others for advice on what options his son has as far as playing professionally. But he said he’s more concerned about his son returning home to Tampa.
"At the end of the day, we’re going to keep our heads up," Gary Garcia said. "He’s going to do something good. Something good will come out of this. God has a plan for him. We don’t know yet, but it’s going to be something special."