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South Carolina Gets Notice Of Allegations From NCAA

The University of South Carolina athletic department received today the letter no school wants to find in its mailbox — a notice of NCAA allegations.

Following an inquiry into athletes staying at a Columbia hotel, the NCAA notified Carolina president Harris Pastides that “available information appears to be of sufficient substance and reliability to warrant a notice of allegations.”

The NCAA has sent several questions to USC to determine the facts surrounding several specific incidents and as well as to “determine the policies and practices of football, men’s basketball, and men’s and women’s track and field in certain areas of athletics administration.”

The charges claim that 12 Carolina athletes received an estimated $47,000 worth of impermissible benefits from the Whitney Hotel (left) via reduced rent and that nine more athletes received special treatment allowing them to pay late.

There are also claims that two people representing USC made impermissible contact with recruits and provided them with impermissible benefits between the spring of 2009 and February 2011.

“We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA in all aspects of their review,” said AD Eric Hyman.  “Any pertinent information from the NCAA that can help us strengthen our athletics program will be used as an opportunity to make positive change.”

You may recall that the NCAA first learned of the Whitney Hotel situation while investigating former Gamecock tight end Weslye Saunders.

You might also recall that when this story first broke last August, Steve Spurrier said:

“Anyone can poke around our program.  We don’t have anything to hide.  Poke on everything — the hours we practice and train.  They can poke everything we do.  And our compliance people poke, too.”

Well, apparently Carolina’s compliance department didn’t poke around nearly as well as the NCAA’s investigators did… and for that, USC could really be poked.

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SEC Headlines – 2/25/11 Part One

1.  Florida wrapped up a portion of the SEC East title with a 71-62 win over Georgia in Gainesville last night.

2.  Chandler Parsons came off the bench to contribute, saying afterwards: “There was no shot I was missing this game.  You’d have to have cut my leg off.”

3.  Kenny Boynton’s three consecutive second-half 3-pointers helped the Gators pull away.

4.  For Georgia, it was yet another case of blowing a halftime lead.

5.  “We’re not the most mature group when it comes to handling success,” Mark Fox said…

6.  Want proof?  Look at this rundown of UGA’s blown leads this season.

7.  It’s getting pretty late in the year for Kentucky to start developing more toughness.

8.  John Calipari wants his team to get mad.  In the words of Patches O’Houlihan: “You’ve got to get angry, you’ve got to get meeean!  That’s the only way you can play.”  (NSFW and bad quality, but maybe Cal needs to deliver the speech offered up at the 4:35 mark of this clip.)

9.  It sounds like former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders might finally be assuming some accountability for his past struggles.

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Ex-Carolina TE Saunders Trying To Get Into NFL Draft

Former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders has an NFL body, if not body of work.  But he might not be taking that body to the NFL in April.

Saunders has been declared ineligible for the NFL draft.  Reportedly he did not file the necessary paperwork to petition the NFL for inclusion into this year’s draft.  The paperwork was needed because Saunders had been dismissed from the Carolina football team, not the NCAA.  Therefore he still has college eligibility remaining and needed the waiver to enter the draft early.

Saunders had a number of issues while in Columbia and was constantly going into and out of Steve Spurrier’s doghouse.  Everything from Saunders’ attitude to his living arrangements drew scrutiny during his playing career.  He was finally dismissed from Carolina’s team last September.  The NCAA had been investigating his connection to an agent.

Saunders did not play for USC last year, but he did notch 60 catches, 718 yards and six touchdowns in 13 career games with Carolina.

His agent says he has asked the NFL to reconsider Saunders’ status.  If the league will not, Saunders will likely wait and hope to be selected in July’s supplemental draft.

The bizarre ending to a bizarre college career.

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