DESTIN, Fla. – South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman handled Stephen Garcia’s situation the way he would any in the athletics department, he said Tuesday.
Beyond that, Hyman did not elaborate on the reinstatement of the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback.
“What was said in the release is the position, and we have to stick with that right now,” Hyman said from the Hilton Sandestin Beach, where the SEC’s annual spring meetings began Tuesday. “Our focus is on the season.”
The Gamecocks reinstated Garcia from an indefinite suspension Monday with the release of a statement from the university.
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Garcia has been cleared on a probationary basis to return to the team for summer workouts. His status for the fall will be re-evaluated before the season.
Hyman met with Garcia on Monday but declined to discuss the details of that meeting.
“I treated him like I would treat your son, and that’s what we tried to do,” he said. “You are sensitive to each individual, and you try to help each individual meet their goals in life. There is only so much we can do.
“We try to put the finishing touches on young people who come in. Every student-athlete is different. You have to use different things so they meet their objectives. Sometimes you can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink. I am speaking in general terms for all student-athletes.”
Garcia has been suspended five times since joining the football team in January 2007.
“Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right,” Hyman said in the school’s statement. “We explain to all of our student-athletes that there are consequences for their actions. Our main goal for Stephen at this time is to assist him in developing the decision-making skills that are needed for managing life in general, whether as a student-athlete, a person, an employee, a spouse or a parent. With assistance from others, we have developed a list of measurable guidelines for Stephen to follow. I want to make it clear those guidelines, which will remain confidential, are designed to help him live a successful life and are not some trivial hoops for him to jump through in order to find a way to reinstate him. So the ball clearly rests in Stephen Garcia’s hands.”
Garcia has started 28 consecutive games for South Carolina. He is third in school history in passing yards (6,753) and touchdowns (43). His return makes the Gamecocks even more formidable, first-year Florida coach Will Muschamp said.
“I think Stephen Garcia has played very well at times,” he said.
Muschamp also is impressed with running back Marcus Lattimore.
“I think he’s outstanding,” Muschamp said. “I don’t think there’s any question that he’s the reason they were in Atlanta (for the SEC Championship Game). You have (Alshon) Jeffery outside, so they have some matchup problems for you outside. Lattimore is a special player. They certainly would be a team that, because of what I see coming back offensively that will need to be reckoned with.”