Steve Spurrier met disassociated South Carolina booster Steve Gordon once and knew quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus had a prior relationship with Gordon and the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation, but he remains cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the NCAA’s investigation into his football program, he said Tuesday.
“I hope we’re not in serious trouble,” the No. 12 Gamecocks’ coach said. “I don’t think we’re going to be. You work these things out and do what they say. That’s what our university is doing. Hopefully, things will work out.”
South Carolina received a Notice of Allegations on Monday from the NCAA that outlined $55,000 in extra benefits the NCAA alleges were given to Gamecocks athletes or prospective athletes. The letter charges the school with failure to monitor two potentially improper situations.
After Spurrier’s weekly news conference Tuesday, he told The State he met with Gordon once when Gordon brought several prospects to South Carolina’s campus. Spurrier knew Mangus had a relationship with Gordon and Kevin Lahn of the SAM Foundation when Mangus was the coach at Delaware Valley College in the Philadelphia area from 2002 to 2005.
The SAM Foundation is at the center of one of the three charges leveled at South Carolina by the NCAA. Gordon, its president, and Lahn, its treasurer, are USC graduates. The organization provided $8,000 in recruiting inducements and extra benefits to freshman wide receiver Damiere Byrd and other unnamed athletes who were being recruited by the Gamecocks but did not attend USC, according to the NCAA.
Byrd is serving a four-game, NCAA-imposed suspension that will end after Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.
“I feel confident G.A. abided by NCAA rules in recruiting Damiere Byrd,” Spurrier told The State.
Spurrier declined to discuss specifics of the investigation. “They tell us not to talk about these things,” he said.
Spurrier and Mangus have been asked to attend South Carolina’s hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in February in Los Angeles. School president Harris Pastides, athletics director Eric Hyman and compliance director Jennifer Stiles also are expected to attend the meeting.
Pastides, Hyman, Mangus and Stiles are not “able to comment” on the investigation, said Luanne Lawrence, the school’s vice president for communications.
“I don’t think it’s embarrassing to get a letter,” Spurrier said. “I think some stuff can happen. Unfortunately, it happened, and we’ll try to handle it the very best we can.”
Spurrier appeared before the infractions committee in 1990 when he coached Florida. That hearing regarded allegations made against the Gators’ former coaching staff. Spurrier said he isn’t upset to be making his first trip to address allegations that involve his program, and he did distance himself from any potential wrongdoing.
“Has my name been mentioned doing anything wrong? Huh? Has it? My name’s not on that sheet,” he said. “I follow the rules as closely as I possibly can, and if I ever break one, I turn myself in.”
Spurrier has one violation “on my record” at South Carolina, he said.
“We were recruiting Kyle Nunn. David Reaves and I were down there at the high school. I said, ‘Do you play basketball?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a game tonight. I just went out for the team, and we’ve got a game tonight,’ ” Spurrier said. “I said, ‘We can’t talk to you today,’ so we got up and left, and I turned myself in.”
It is against NCAA rules to talk to a recruit the day he is competing in a high school event.
“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 said.
The NCAA issue is not a distraction for players, running back Marcus Lattimore said.
“We rarely talk about it,” he said. “We are really not the ones in the spotlight like the Miamis and the Ohio States and all that. When it does come up, we really don’t talk about it that much.”