NCAA to discuss South Carolina sanctions
By PETE IACOBELLI
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The NCAA is set to release its decision on the South Carolina infractions case involving athletes receiving about $55,000 in improper benefits.
The governing body says it will discuss the Committee on Infractions' decision in a conference call Friday afternoon.
The NCAA alleges South Carolina athletes received $47,000 in impermissible benefits by staying at a hotel near campus for reduced rates. South Carolina also has been cited for athletes receiving $8,000 in improper inducements from a mentoring group out of Delaware.
South Carolina agreed in its response to the NCAA in December that major rules violations did take place.
Gamecocks football coach Steve Spurrier, university President Harris Pastides and several other school leaders met with the infractions committee in Los Angeles two months ago.
The school said it will reduce football scholarships by one in 2012-13, by three in 2013-14 and by two in 2014-15. The football team will reduce its official visits from 56 to 30 in 2012-2013.
The NCAA found the Whitney Hotel charged a rate of $14.95 per athlete for two-bedroom suites. The NCAA said the rate should've been more than $57 per night for each athlete. One football player who spent more than year at the hotel, the NCAA said, received an extra benefit worth $19,280.
Former South Carolina compliance director Jennifer Stiles had said the hotel rate was comparable to other available off-campus housing. The NCAA called her assessment "flawed" in correspondence from 2010 and said the school should have compared the rate to the price for others who stayed at the Whitney long term.
"Had this good faith error in judgment not occurred, the university believes the violations in allegation one would have been minimized," South Carolina said in its NCAA response.
The NCAA also alleged that South Carolina received $8,000 in improper benefits from the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation.
SAMF president Steve Gordon and treasurer Kevin Lahn were found to have paid for several unofficial visits by Gamecocks freshman receiver Damiere Byrd. Both Gordon and Lahn are South Carolina graduates.
Byrd was suspended for South Carolina's first four games and had to pay back $2,700.
Lahn also paid for a $3,350 dinner cruise on nearby Lake Murray for several prospects that was also attended by track coach Curtis Frye and 16 members of his program.
South Carolina said it would pay a fine of $18,500 for four athletes who competed in 2009 and 2010 while ineligible because of these violations.
The university has disassociated itself from three boosters; Gordon Lahn, and Whitney general manager Jamie Blevins.
Updated April 27, 2012