Steve Spurrier: South Carolina not in serious trouble with NCAA
Spurrier does not think Gamecocks will face serious punishment from NCAA
NCAA says athletes received $55,000 in impermissible benefits from two sources
Allegations also state the university failed to monitor both situations in question
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Steve Spurrier says he follows the rules and doesn't believe South Carolina will face serious punishment from the NCAA's allegations regarding his program.
The NCAA outlined three potentially major violations in its letter of allegations sent to South Carolina on Monday. The NCAA says South Carolina athletes received $55,000 in impermissible benefits for staying at a hotel for a reduced rate and for dealings with officials of a Delaware-based mentoring group.
The NCAA said university officials failed to monitor either situation.
"I hope we're not in serious trouble. I don't think we're going to be," Spurrier said Tuesday. "You work these things out and do what they say."
Spurrier was among the South Carolina athletic personnel asked to meet with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in Los Angeles next February. The school has until Dec. 14 to respond to the allegations.
Spurrier said there's no embarrassment to getting a letter or appearing in front of an NCAA panel, especially not these days when potential for illegal contact exists through social media, e-mails and text messages.
"I think some stuff can happen," Spurrier said. "Unfortunately, it happened and we'll try to handle it the very best we can."
The NCAA said 10 South Carolina football players and two members of its women's track team received $47,000 in improper benefits for staying at The Whitney Hotel for a reduced rate. The school's compliance office signed off on players paying $450 each to live in a two-bedroom suite, a rate the NCAA determined was only about a quarter of what should've been charged.
"You can see how that thing happened with the housing," Spurrier said. "Obviously we wish we had known what was happening, but we didn't."
The NCAA also said South Carolina athletes or prospects received $8,000 in benefits from two executives from the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation in president Steve Gordon and treasurer Kevin Lahn. The two are South Carolina graduates and paid for several unofficial visits by Gamecocks freshman receiver Damiere Byrd.
The NCAA previously ruled that Byrd must miss four games and pay back $2,700 before he can play. Byrd is expected to make his college debut against Auburn on Oct. 1.
The NCAA said Lahn 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.
Spurrier was not mentioned in the allegations and says the potential violations don't taint his reputation for playing by the rules.
"I follow the rules as closely as I possibly can and if I ever break one, I turn myself in," he said.
That's what happened during the 2007 recruitment of starting offensive lineman Kyle Nunn. Spurrier said he then assistant David Reaves went to visit Nunn at Sumter High School and found out the player had a basketball game that night.
"I said, 'We can't talk to you today,' so we got up and left and I turned myself in," Spurrier said. "That's the one violation that's on my record here. OK? That's what you call an accidental secondary violation, and I don't know of any coach who doesn't have one of those."
Spurrier's wife, Jerri, was also cited for a secondary violation in 2006 for sending hand-written 'Thank You' notes to the families of Gamecock football signees.
Spurrier's quarterback coach G.A. Mangus was named by the NCAA for his involvement with Gordon and Lahn.
"Not that (Mangus) had broken any rules, but he had a prior relationship with the guys up there," Spurrier said.
The university has cut ties with Gordon and Lahn, sending each a letter ending their association with the athletic program and its athletes. It did the same with Whitney Hotel general manager Jamie Blevins.
The NCAA's letter said South Carolina might face more severe penalties as a repeat violator because of major violations from a case decided in November 2005 that occurred when Lou Holtz was football coach. That probationary period ended in 2008.
Gamecocks tailback Marcus Lattimore, the nation's leading rusher at 534, was a highly recruited runner out of Byrnes High and learned quickly to stay away from those who didn't have his best interest at heart. He said Tuesday he understands, though, how recruits can find trouble.
"Some come from low poverty levels, first thing they see, they take it," Lattimore said. "I can definitely relate to them."
Only once has Spurrier faced the NCAA infractions committee and that was in 1990. He was Florida's first-year coach and was brought in to discuss violations that occurred under his predecessor, Galen Hall. The NCAA's decision to penalize the Gators cost them that year's Southeastern Conference title - a crown Spurrier still believes they earned.
"Was not allowed to be called SEC champions," he said. "That's how it works sometimes."
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