It hasn’t been the peaceful, drama-free South Carolina camp Steve Spurrier hoped for.
There’s the continued suspension of standout tight end Weslye Saunders, which has gone almost a week with no indication when he might return. There’s been the missed practice time of players who Spurrier told to move out of a local hotel where they had stayed. And there are the lingering injuries to key performers like fullback Pat DiMarco, a team captain, and linebacker Shaq Wilson, the Gamecocks’ leading tackler last season.
But Spurrier says his players have put that aside and worked to make sure they’re ready for action when they open against Southern Miss at Williams-Brice Stadium on Thursday night.
“We really haven’t been distracted,” Spurrier said last Thursday night.
The biggest one’s have involved Saunders, a solid tight end considered a high NFL draft pick next spring. He has met with the NCAA about a party in Miami last May and was among those players living at the hotel.
Spurrier suspended him Aug. 23, two days after he led all South Carolina receivers during a scrimmage session. The coach said Saunders’ suspension was not connected to NCAA issues or his hotel stay.
Also on hold is what, if anything, may happen to those players who lived at the hotel at discounted rates, which the NCAA could consider an extra benefit. Spurrier told those involved to pay their bills and get out.
Spurrier expected a decision about potential penalties before game time.