Golson 'wanted to be a Gamecock'

Brandon Golson
Brandon Golson

Brandon Golson was committed to South Carolina, but the university ultimately couldn’t commit to him.

The talented linebacker from Calhoun County, who spent the 2010 season at Fork Union Military Academy, was denied admission to USC this week despite reaching the NCAA’s minimum qualification standards, Calhoun coach Walter Wilson said Thursday.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound outside linebacker, who was projected to fill USC’s hybrid linebacker/safety position, failed to qualify after signing with the Gamecocks last February.

Needing to add only one core class to his transcript, USC asked him to attend Fork Union for a semester, where he passed the needed class with an “A,” Golson’s mother, Angie Bowman, said.

However, USC’s admissions office would not sign off on his acceptance, leaving him to choose between Louisville and Miami to continue his college career. Golson, who was visiting Louisville Thursday and will visit Miami Friday, will choose a school this weekend and enroll next week.

Golson, who did not answer his phone Thursday, wanted more than anything to attend USC, where former prep teammate Alshon Jeffery is now thriving. While he was at Fork Union, he turned down repeated overtures from Arkansas to take an official visit because he was already committed to resigning with USC, Wilson said.

“You have to live with disappointment and adversity,” he said. “I just hate it because the kid probably could have [found another school] earlier, but he stuck with Carolina. He wanted to be a Gamecock. Whichever school he chooses, he’s going to be in a good program. I’m fine. He’s fine. I always tell my kids it’s not where you go, it’s what you do when you get there.

“The kid went and did what he was asked to do. They sent him to prep school. He went up there and passed the class they wanted him to take. It’s frustrating, but I don’t have time to stay frustrated because my concern is the kid. I always tell my kids things happen for a reason. Then we roll with it.”

USC’s decision to deny admission to Golson brings back memories of coach Steve Spurrier’s public feud with school officials over their admissions policies in 2007.

The university reportedly altered its admissions policies for athletes three years ago when Spurrier publicly chastised the process and threatened to quit after two players qualified under NCAA standards were denied admission to USC. He said he wouldn’t promise high school players the opportunity to play in his program only to see the school’s admissions office deny them acceptance into the school.

“Every student that’s NCAA-qualified is not necessarily going to succeed and shouldn’t be accepted,” Bill Bearden, South Carolina’s former NCAA faculty athletics representative, told The State then.

A message left for Zach Kelehear, USC’s current faculty athletics representative, was not immediately returned.

It’s not uncommon for some players to be admitted into FBS schools with academic profiles below the school’s standards. When making such decisions, which at some schools are ultimately left up to the presidents, the school must weigh the potential impact of those players on the field against their impact on the school’s academic profile.

Those making the final decisions must also weigh the student-athlete’s ability to handle the academic load and sustain a path toward graduation. With the introduction of the Academic Progress Rate in 2005, which penalizes schools whose athletes failed to maintain eligibility and graduate, the admission of prep athletes with questionable academic performances is under much greater scrutiny.