South Carolina senior outfielder Graham Saiko has been kicked off the baseball team for a violation of team rules.
Although the violation wasn’t specified, sources said it was related to off-field issues.
“Graham is a terrific young man that has done great things both on the field and in the classroom,” USC coach Chad Holbrook said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “At this time, Graham and I have mutually agreed that it is in his best interest to focus his attention on obtaining his degree from the University of South Carolina. We certainly appreciate all Graham has given to our baseball program.”
Saiko started 56 of the Gamecocks' 63 games in 2013, batting .263 with two home runs and 29 RBIs for a club that reached the NCAA Super Regionals. He was second on the team in walks (41) and stolen bases (12).
The Newburgh, Ind., native began his college career at Oklahoma State but transferred after playing sparingly over two seasons. He got a fresh start in 2012 at Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College before making the move to South Carolina.
Saiko’s suspension follows on the heels of backup outfielder T.J. Costen’s transfer out of the program. That leaves USC with two returning starters in the outfield – junior center fielder Tanner English and junior right-fielder Connor Bright.
But two talented newcomers will battle for starting roles in junior left-fielder Elliott Caldwell, a transfer from Spartanburg Methodist, and freshman right-fielder Brock Maxwell. Joey Pankake, the team’s shortstop the last two seasons, also could see some playing time in left or right in addition to playing third base.
Official team practice for the fall begins Friday and runs through the last weekend in October.