Steve Spurrier

NCAA slaps South Carolina with failure to monitor

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Following a nearly two-year investigation into South Carolina’s athletics program stemming from allegations that student-athletes (mainly football players) received impermissible benefits, the NCAA has come to a conclusion regarding what sanctions the Gamecocks will face going forward.

And, by and large, the NCAA kept with the self-imposed penalties South Carolina submitted to the NCAA last December. You can read the football-related penalties below. HERE is the full summary by the NCAA.

The Association found that South Carolina failed to monitor its athletic program and “is responsible for impermissible recruiting, extra benefits and preferential treatment” of athletes according to the Committee on Infractions. Additionally, “at least four athletics department employees did not recognize the potential violations” committed by boosters Kevin Lahn and Steve Gordon. 

Here’s the meat of the summary as it pertains to the infractions:

According to the facts of the case, twelve student-athletes lived in local hotel while paying a daily rate of less than $15 per person, an amount that was considerably less than what was available to the general student population.  In addition, nine student-athletes received special loan arrangements by deferring rent payments through an agreement with the hotel. In total, the student-athletes received approximately $51,000* in impermissible extra benefits and preferential treatment.

In addition, two boosters provided more than $8,000 from their foundation for recruiting inducements and extra benefits to football prospects and student-athletes. These boosters also were  involved in recruiting contacts. The committee noted that while some of the motivation and purpose for establishing the foundation were well-intentioned, it was clear that some efforts were aimed at assisting the university in its recruitment efforts. The benefits from the boosters included cash, gift cards, entertainment and funding of multiple unofficial visits.

With the exception of determining when the local hotel should be considered a booster organization, the university agreed with all of the allegations in this case, including the failure to monitor.

(*That number was previously said to be $47,000 with total benefits being $55,000) 

Here’s what the football program faces in terms of sanctioning (note that another year of Stephen Garcia was not imposed by the NCAA):

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from April 27, 2012, through April 26, 2015.
  • Reduction of total football scholarships by three (from 85 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
  • Reduction of initial football scholarships by three (from the 25 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • $18,500 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • Indefinite disassociation of both involved boosters and the local hotel (self-imposed by the university).
  • Limit of 30 official visits in football (from the 56 maximum) for the 2012-13 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • An assistant football coach was withheld from off campus recruiting during January 2012 (self-imposed by the university).

In other words, pretty much what the school proposed last year. The reason? The “committee noted the university’s cooperation in the investigation, which went beyond standard expectations.”

Hear that kids? Break the rules all you want. Just admit you were wrong and be helpful along the way.

ECU transfer Kurt Benkert wins Virginia’s starting QB job

In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 East Carolina quarterback Kurt Benkert rolls out to pass during NCAA college football practice in Greenville, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Four months ago, Kurt Benkert was one the losing end of a quarterback competition at East Carolina.  Fastforward to today, and he’s now the trigger man in a Power Five offense.

First-year Hoos head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced Wednesday that Benkert will start the season opener against Richmond.  Benkert had been involved in a competition that included returning starter Matt Johns and Texas/Arizona transfer Connor Brewer.

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Benkert came to the Cavaliers as a graduate transfer, but is not a one-year stop-gap as he has two years of eligibility remaining.

Named the Pirates’ starter in early August of 2015, Benkert sustained a right knee injury a couple of weeks later that knocked him out for the entire season.  Blake Kemp took over and kept a stranglehold on the starting job through spring practice this year, triggering Benkert’s decision to move on.

Benkert has attempted 10 passes in his collegiate career, all in 2014.

In starting all 12 games for the Cavaliers last season, Johns’ 2,810 passing yards were third in school history while his 20 touchdowns were tied for fourth.  His 17 interceptions, though, were the most of any FBS quarterback in 2015.

Cassius Peat granted release by Mich. St., appears headed to JUCO

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 15:  A Michigan State Spartans helmet on the bench during a college football game against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on November 15, 2014 in College Park, Maryland.  The Spartans won 37-15.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Earlier this month, Mark Dantonio stated that Michigan State was giving Cassius Peat “an opportunity to work on his academics and get himself in order” as his status with the program was “in flux.”

A week or so later?  He gone.

MSU confirmed Wednesday that Peat has been granted a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the Spartans.  And, in fact, the defensive lineman may have already found a new home, one at the junior college level.

Peat, initially a UCLA commit, was a three-star 2015 recruit who was rated as the No. 3 player at any position in the state of Arizona.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, and had been listed as the No. tackle heading into summer camp.

However, according to mlive.com, Peat did not report for camp amidst his academic issues.

Ex-Oregon St. DB goes home to LaTech as grad transfer

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Justin Davis #22 of the USC Trojans is defended by safety Cyril Noland-Lewis #17 of the Oregon State Beavers in the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 27, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Oregon State 35-10.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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A week after transferring from Oregon State, Cyril Noland-Lewis has found a new home that happens to also double as his hometown.

The Ruston News Star, among others, has reported that Noland-Lewis is transferring into the Louisiana Tech football program.  As he is coming to Tech as a graduate transfer, he will be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2016, his final season of eligibility.

The defensive back, who went to high school in Ruston, was at the Bulldogs’ practice Tuesday as Tech continues preparations for the season opener Sept. 3 against Arkansas.

Noland-Lewis started 10 games for the Beavers last season.  Six of those starts came as a safety, the others as the nickel corner.  OSU moved Noland-Lewis to cornerback this offseason, where he ultimately found himself buried on the depth chart in summer camp.

The 6-0, 198-pound fifth-year senior, who began his OSU career as a linebacker, played in a total of 37 games during his time in Corvallis.

Tyler Rodgers, NMSU’s starting QB, arrested on battery charge

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tyler Rogers #18 of the New Mexico State Aggies drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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It’s not been a good day for a couple of starting quarterbacks at Group of Five programs.

The Las Cruces Sun-News has reported that New Mexico State’s Tyler Rogers turned himself in last Friday on a warrant that had been issued for him Aug. 14.  The junior was booked on one count of misdemeanor charge of battery against a household member.

The alleged victim is Rogers’ girlfriend. A verbal altercation at a party allegedly turned physical in a vehicle later on. When police arrived, the woman, who was initially crying, “downplayed the incident and said that it wasn’t really anything and that the altercation did not get physical and didn’t consider Mr. Rogers grabbing her arm as being a physical altercation.”

The woman decided against completing a domestic violence supplement report, and, according to the Sun-News, it’s unclear if the woman is cooperating with police.

“I was very disappointed in hearing the news but we are in the information gathering stage,” NMSU athletic director Mario Moccia said in a statement. “These are allegations that we take very seriously and we look forward to getting as much detail as possible so the university can be informed and the athletic department can make an informed decision moving forward.”

Because “it is a misdemeanor, there isn’t a suspension coming forth right now,” head coach Doug Martin said.

Rogers has started 15 games the past two seasons for the Aggies.