Columbia, South Carolina: South Carolina will eliminate six football scholarships in the next three years as punishment for committing three major NCAA violations. In a 111-page response to the NCAA, the school also said it will reduce official recruiting visits in football and track and field.
The NCAA said 10 South Carolina football players and two members of its women’s track team received $47,000 in improper benefits for staying at a Columbia hotel for a reduced rate that was about a quarter of what should’ve been charged. The university also agreed with it committed a major violation when athletes or prospects received $8,000 in benefits from two executives from a mentoring foundation.
The school also didn’t dispute the NCAA finding it failed to properly monitor its athletes, but it called the hotel violation a “good faith error in judgment” from its compliance department.
Then-compliance officer director Jennifer Stiles signed off on players paying $450 each to live in a two-bedroom suite at The Whitney Hotel, a rate the NCAA determined was only about a quarter of what should’ve been charged. Stiles were demoted to another job in the office earlier this month.
The second major violation involved the Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation and its president Steve Gordon and treasurer Kevin Lahn. The two are South Carolina graduates and paid for several unofficial visits by Gamecocks freshman receiver Damiere Byrd. The NCAA ruled that Byrd must miss four games and pay back $2,700.
Lahn also paid for a $3,350 dinner cruise on nearby Lake Murray for several prospects that was also attended by track coach Curtis Frye and 16 members of his program. The NCAA will consider South Carolina’s self-imposed penalties at a hearing on the violations in February.