Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The same day their neighbors to the north announced their response to an NCAA Notice of Allegations, South Carolina has announced that the Gamecocks have received their own NOA. And the details don't look good for the Gamecocks.
According to the NOA (PDF), the owner of the Whitney Hotel in Columbia -- described in the NOA as a "representative of the institution's athletics interests" -- provided some $47,000 in improper benefits to various Gamecock football players in the form of discounted hotel suites. The suites were charged to multiple players at a cost of just $14.59 per day, and with several players' having their already-reduced rent deferred, the players also stand accused of receiving "impermissible loans."
With the violations occurring throughout the 2009 season, it seems likely Carolina will have to vacate their seven wins that year.
That's only the start of the bad news for Carolina. The Student-Athlete Mentoring Foundation and Steve Gordon -- also described as a "representative of the institution's athletics interests" -- have been charged by the NOA with providing some $8,000 "impermissible recruiting inducements." Gordon and the S.A.M.'s involvement has already led to the suspensions this season of Florida's Sharrif Floyd and the Gamecocks' Damiere Byrd.
Between those two allegations and others (which include a pair of track athletes also receiving benefits at the Whitney), Carolina has been charged with "failure to monitor" and are "considered to be potential major violations." It also won't help the Gamecocks' case that the NOA also considers the Gamecocks subject to potential "repeat violator" status.
The Gamecocks will go in front of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in Los Angeles this coming February 17 and 18. At that meeting Carolina officials will either agree with or dispute the allegatiosn and self-impose any sanctions they deem necessary.
As for the bottom line -- what sanctions the Gamecocks will self-impose and which additional ones the NCAA might tack on -- it's too early to make anything more than an educated guess. But combining the $55,000 price tag with repeat violator status and the failure to monitor charge could be a toxic brew for the Gamecocks ... and one that we feel means a postseason ban or major scholarship reductions, if not likely, can't be ruled out, either.