Steve Spurrier confirmed on Sunday that the NCAA had questioned one of his players about possible rules violations. Tight end Weslye Saunders is at the center of the investigation, which is actually an extension of an on-going investigation in to some issues within the University of North Carolina program.
The UNC investigation is reported to be focused on possible connections to sports agents, which is prohibited by the NCAA. According to a report by The State, South Carolina’s Saunders is good friends with UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Austin is one of the major players being investigated at North Carolina.
Spurrier stated that he was unaware of what the NCAA had asked Saunders but The State suggests that the NCAA was questioning the tight end about airfare and hotel charges on trips by Saunders and players from UNC.
“All I know is they had talked to him, and talked to some players at North Carolina. That’s all I know,” Spurrier said. “Whatever comes (of it), we’ll just have to wait and see. But I can assure that all of our players, our team, has been well-versed or taught about agents or people giving them gifts or money or whatever.” Spurrier had previously led the Florida Gators program away from scandals when he took over the coaching job, so he has a decent track record on this issue. “So if we have a player that accepts money, gifts from agents or whoever, they’ll be ineligible to play.”
“We’re not going to look the other way like possibly Southern California did,” Spurrier said, referencing the recent allegations against USC that recently landed the program on a two year probation. “We’re going to abide by the rules.”
Asked whether or not he believed his player did anything wrong Spurrier said “I’m not accusing Weslye of anything. He may be innocent. He may just know those (North Carolina) guys,” Spurrier said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see how it all comes out.”
South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman released a statement on the NCAA investigation;
“The NCAA has been in contact with us regarding possible rules violations in one of our programs. We have and will continue to cooperate fully with their inquiry. We have confidence in our compliance program and will work with the NCAA to bring this matter to a resolution in a timely fashion.”
Depending on the severity of the violation, as deemed by the NCAA, Saunders could have to repay any benefits he may be found guilty of receiving or he could be named ineligible for the entire season. South Carolina could be punished as well if Saunders is found to have violated NCAA rules. If Saunders played in any game after Saunders received any benefits the school could have to vacate any victories.
The investigation at North Carolina and South Carolina is on-going and no players have been charged with NCAA violations at this time.
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