South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier banned 12 recently departed Gamecocks from the team’s weight room, but Spurrier is hopeful all 12 will soon be back in his good graces.
His decision stemmed from a Wednesday night dinner at the home of school president Harris Pastides for the team’s recently departed seniors who are preparing for the NFL Draft. Twelve players, including safety D.J. Swearinger and tight end Justice Cunningham, did not attend.
“We thought everybody was going. About 12 of our senior guys decided they didn’t want to go so it was a little embarrassing for me,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier has asked the players who did not attend the dinner to write a letter of apology to Pastides before being allowed back in the weight room.
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“If they don’t think it was important, they don’t need to come to the weight room, pretty simple,” Spurrier said.
Swearinger and Cunningham expressed their frustration with the decision via Twitter, and Swearinger told The State that he was not invited to the dinner in time to cancel existing plans.
“It was a misunderstanding,” Swearinger said. “He wanted us at a dinner, but he waited too late to tell us about it. We had plans a lot of us to meet up with people. We couldn’t change our plans at the last minute. It ain’t nothing too bad. It’s a misunderstanding, that’s all.”
The incident comes at a time when the university is making more of an effort to make its lettermen feel more welcome on campus. South Carolina recently hired Clyde Wrenn to help manage that effort.
“It’s not something we’ve done a great job of in the past,” Jeff Crane, USC’s senior associate athletics director in charge of development and the Gamecock Club, said in January. “We want to build a bridge.”
Linebacker Shaq Wilson also did not attend last week’s dinner but is working out near his home in Florida so was unaffected by the locker room ban, he said. Swearinger and Cunningham, another other recently departed Gamecocks, have remained in Columbia and were using the weight room to prepare for April’s NFL Draft.
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