Suspended USC quarterback Stephen Garcia is heading in the right direction to winning reinstatement with the Gamecocks, but he still has a way to go, the school’s athletics director said Friday.
“I think everything to this point and time has been positive, but it is very premature,” Athletics Director Eric Hyman said. “We still have some checkpoints to come to.”
Hyman’s report comes in a week when the quarterback said that he felt good about his possibility of returning and head coach Steve Spurrier said Garcia has “got a chance at being back.”
Garcia has been suspended from the team five times in his USC career, including twice during this season’s spring practice. He has been on indefinite suspension since April 6 for disrupting a SEC-mandated leadership conference.
Asked how well Garcia is progressing, Hyman offered a quote by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Your actions speak so loud, I can barely hear what you are say.”
“Actions have got to be backed up,” Hyman added, “and that is developed in time.”
Hyman did not provide a timetable for deciding if Garcia could rejoin the reigning SEC East champions. “That date is a work in progress,” he said.
Teams are supposed to notify athletes by July 1 if their scholarships will not be renewed for the upcoming season, USC compliance director Jennifer Stiles said. The compliance office has not been informed of any change in the status of Garcia’s scholarship for next season, she said.
Hyman would not discuss Friday what Garcia did or said to disrupt the leadership event in April to earn his indefinite suspension or what he must do to come back to the team.
Replying to Internet reports, Hyman said his wife, Pauline, had nothing to do with Garcia’s suspension.
Hyman’s wife, who helps with a South Carolina-run life skills program, had not heard of the SEC-mandated leadership event before Garcia’s suspension, he said. She did not attend the event, he said, and neither did any USC coaches or employees.
Hyman said he learned about Garcia’s conduct at the April 5 event from Spurrier the morning after the incident happened. Hyman said athletics department officials called event instructors to learn what took place. After consulting with Spurrier, Garcia was suspended on April 6.
“Eric Hyman didn’t make that (decision) by himself,” Hyman said. “We talked about the facts. Basically, Steve (Garcia) did not represent the University of South Carolina appropriately.”
A Freedom of Information request for documents relating to Garcia’s suspension was turned down by the school, which cited student privacy regulations.
Garcia graduated this past Saturday with a degree in sociology and could play for another FBS school if he does not return to South Carolina.
The Tampa-area native has not spoken extensively on his suspension, though The State at his commencement ceremony that he was meeting with Spurrier.
“I came here in January of 2007, and it’s been a long, long journey,” he said last Saturday. “Hopefully, it’s not over yet.”