WINNSBORO — A Fairfield County magistrate found USC cornerback C.C. Whitlock not guilty of a trespassing charge Wednesday morning, perhaps clearing the way for Whitlock to return to the team.
Whitlock, suspended since his arrest last month, said he is to meet with athletics director Eric Hyman and hopes to be reinstated by next week.
Whitlock, 20, a sophomore from Chester, was charged May 23 following a disturbance at Club 330 on Highway 321 near the Chester-Fairfield county line.
Deputy John Burden said Whitlock and his friend, Justin Stephens, were asked to leave the club as many as six times but refused to do so. Burden said both had been drinking.
A security officer at the club told deputies that Whitlock had been involved in an incident there a week earlier. But Whitlock told Magistrate E.G. Palmer he was not present for the previous disturbance.
Tamia Hughes, who owns Club 330 with her husband, called it a case of “mistaken identity.”
While Whitlock and the 21-year-old Stephens were cleared, Palmer found two of their friends guilty of disorderly conduct. Micheal Halsey, 18, and Denorris Chalk, 20, will have to pay a fine on the misdemeanor charge.
Palmer ordered Whitlock and Stephens to stay away from the club, saying they could face new trespass charges if they return. And though Hughes said Whitlock is welcome at the club, Whitlock said he plans to avoid it.
“Coach (Steve Spurrier) has been telling me, ‘Y’all shouldn’t have been down there, anyway,’ being at a nightclub,” Whitlock said following the hearing. “I do feel like I put myself in a bad situation, but it won’t happen again, though.”
Whitlock, wearing a T-shirt, sneakers and black USC sweats, and his friends represented themselves during the 15-minute hearing.
Whitlock began spring practice as a second-team corner, but missed most of spring drills while under academic suspension. His arrest came less than a week after he had been reinstated.
“I’ve been suspended all spring. I haven’t played football since last year, man. I’ve just missed doing what I love doing the most,” Whitlock said. “I’m just ready to get back out there and show these coaches what I can do.”
When he reinstated them last month, Spurrier said Whitlock and defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye would be suspended for at least one game this season. Attempts to reach Spurrier on Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Whitlock was one of five players who fought with non-students in September during a brawl at the Russell House food court. No charges were filed in that incident.
Coaches have expressed concern about the negative influences that surround Whitlock in Chester. But Whitlock said he has to return home to spend time with his three young children.
“Sometimes bad things do happen. But with me having kids, I have to come back, pay a visit to them,” he said. “I guess when I come home now, (I’ll) just stay home with them.”
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.