With Damiere Byrd unexpectedly sidelined for South Carolina’s opener due to an NCAA compliance issue, head coach Steve Spurrier said he hoped to “get it cleared up before next week.”
Spurrier got his wish as Byrd’s status has indeed been cleared up. It’s doubtful, though, the resolution was what he was hoping for.
First reported by 247Sports.com, and subsequently confirmed by the school, the wide receiver will be forced to serve a suspension that totals four games. In addition to the opener against East Carolina, Byrd will miss the the next three games against Georgia, Navy and Vanderbilt.
Byrd, a freshman, was found to have received impermissible benefits prior to signing with the Gamecocks. The school stated in the release that Byrd will have to repay benefits as a condition of becoming eligible to compete again, although the amount was not disclosed.
“While we respect the process, we are very disappointed for Damiere,” said Athletics Director Eric Hyman in a statement. “Damiere is an outstanding individual and has been upfront with us as to what occurred during the recruiting process. He had no idea that being part of the Student Athlete Mentoring (SAM) Foundation would in any way affect his college eligibility. We continue to support him and will carefully consider appealing this decision
Byrd’s father is Adrian Byrd, who is listed as the director of the New Jersey chapter of S.A.M., a Delaware-based organization whose stated goal is to “provide supplementary support to high school student-athletes in both their academic and athletic endeavors.” That same organization is connected to Sharrif Floyd, the Florida defensive lineman who the NCAA ruled Thursday would have to sit two games and repay $2,700 after it was found he had received impermissible benefits prior to his enrollment at UF.
It should also be noted that S.A.M.’s treasurer, Kevin Lahn, is a graduate of South Carolina and a football season-ticket holder. As explained to us by Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post, in order to become a USC season-ticket holder, you must first be a member of the booster club. Technically, that makes Lahn a USC booster.
Coming out of Sicklerville, NJ, Byrd was a four-star member of South Carolina’s 2011 recruiting class.
UPDATED 3:19 p.m. ET: The NCAA announced that Byrd will be forced to repay $2,700 as a condition of his reinstatement, the same amount as Floyd. So, why was Byrd suspended for four games and Floyd just two for what appears to be the same “crime”? The NCAA noted in its release on Floyd that the player was in line for a four-game suspension, but, “[b]ased on the mitigating circumstances in the case” — with those being Floyd’s “personal hardship that led to the impermissible benefits being provided to the student-athlete by someone other than a legal guardian or family member” — the “withholding condition” was cut in half to two.